1Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty in Murder of Her Daughter
She is now the most hated woman in America, if not the world. Anthony's three-year-old daughter Caylee went missing for 31 days, all while her mother partied, participating in Hot Body contests and showing no concern for her missing daughter. When her daughter was finally found dead in the woods near the family home, Anthony was put on trial. The case against her was strong – Anthony's car smelled like a dead body, there were pieces of evidence like a blanket and stickers that matched items in her home, as well as her habitual lying about the incident. But apparently not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the jury came back with a Not Guilty verdict. Even though the month-long trial featured 400 pieces of evidence and 90 witnesses, jurors returned their verdict in just one day of deliberation.
2Vince Neil Killed His Best Friend
Did you know that the singer of Motley Crue is also a murderer? ‘Tis true. Neil, wasted at the time, drove himself and his good friend Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley, the drummer for Hanoi Rocks, and two other people to the liquor store to get more booze. Vince lost control of the vehicle, killing Dingley instantly, and causing brain damage to the other two passengers. Neil emerged basically unscathed, and only had to spend 15 days in jail, 5 years on probation, and a couple million dollars in restitution. To make things worse, Motley Crue later unleashed their horrendous album “Theatre of Pain” to the world, in memory of Dingley.
3Robert Blake Shot His Wife and Got Off
Known for many years as Baretta, an undercover cop, the real Robert Blake ended up on the wrong side of the law. On May 4, 2001 Blake and then-wife Bonnie Lee Bakley were having dinner at Vitello's, a favorite Italian diner. They parked several blocks away in a dark area near a dumpster. After dinner, Blake escorted Bakely back to the car. According to Blake, he realized that he left a handgun he was carrying back at the restaurant. When he returned to the car, he says he found her shot in the head. With a media circus similar to O.J. Simpson (see #9) the case seemed open-and-shut: two people were put on the witness stand, saying Blake had approached them about killing his wife, as well as describing Blake's strange behavior that evening. However, also like O.J., he was found not guilty, set free, and later found culpable in a civil trial.
4Lizzy Borden Took An Axe... (You know the rest)
This woman's name is synonymous with axe murders, nursery rhymes, and bad heavy metal bands, yet did you know that she got away with her crimes? That's right, Lizzy Borden, the only suspect in the axe murder death of her father and stepmother Andrew and Abby on the night of August 4, 1892, was found not guilty. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to her guilt, including inconsistencies in her alibi on the night of the murders, the fact that she tried to buy poison earlier that day, and that she was seen burning the dress she wore the night of the murders. But jury procedures, luck, and the fact that no one could fathom how a young woman could be so violent, played into the jury's verdict, which was delivered in under an hour. The case still continues to fascinate today, as it is still technically unsolved.
5Richard James Herrin, the “Yale Murder Case”
This is one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice, and you've probably never even heard of it. But in 1977, it was nationwide news in the US. The case itself is straightforward enough: on July 7, 1977 Richard James Herrin murdered his girlfriend Bonnie Garland brutally with a hammer. Herrin even admitted that he did the deed – the two met while they were students at Yale (hence the moniker “The Yale Murder”). However, what was truly strange was the incredible outpouring of sympathy… for the murderer. From almost the moment he was caught, he was treated with kid gloves. Herrin, they said, was a “misunderstood youth” who grew up in a poor section of Los Angeles. Not only had he not been able to “fit in” at Yale (he had dropped out before the murder) but he had been rejected by Garland, who told him she wanted to be able to sleep with other men – it was Herrin that was the “victim” of society. This groundswell of support was spread by the media and carried him through the trial. Garland was portrayed as the monster who rejected this poor man and he had no choice but to murder her, the logic went. People bought it, so much so that he was found not guilty of murder in the 1st or 2nd degree but merely guilty of manslaughter. But while the astounded judge sentenced him to the maximum amount he could – 25 years -- in 1995, after serving 2/3 of his sentence, he was paroled and disappeared.
6Al Capone – Jailed for… Tax Evasion
Notorious gangster Al Capone ruled Chicago's Underworld with an iron fist. In spite of his infamy as the violent mob leader, nobody could ever pin any crimes on the man. For example, there's the infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre that he orchestrated, where 7 members of rival Bugs Moran's gang were gunned down. Capone merely ordered the hit: he was in Florida, bedridden, complete with a doctor's note for a perfect alibi. Fierce loyalty from his underlings played a part, as well as strict legal protections that required search warrants at all times. On top of that, he dealt strictly in cash, having no bank account and only endorsing one check his entire life. But believe it or not, that's what finally got him. Working with the Treasury and the IRS, the FBI was able to cobble enough evidence to convict him of tax evasion. He served 7 years of a 10 year sentence, later contracting syphilis and dying. Isn't mob life glamorous?
7Don King aka Stompy
This crazy-haired boxing promoter was known for throwing his weight around, literally. King has killed two people, Hillary Brown and Sam Garrett. He was charged with murder for shooting Ms. Brown in the back, but got off on self-defense. For the stomping death – that's right I said stomping death – of Mr. Garrett, who owed Mr. King some money, he was merely convicted of “non-negligent” homicide and served less than 3 years behind bars. It's good to be King!
8William S. Burroughs – Played “William Tell” with Wife
“Anyone up for a game of William Tell?”
Poet, junkie… murderer. Yes, in 1951 drunken Beat Icon William S. Burroughs shot and killed his wife Joan Vollmer while allegedly playing a game of “William Tell” at a party in Mexico City. But instead of an apple, as it is commonly believed, it was actually a shot glass. Burroughs spent 13 days in the slammer before his wealthy parents stepped in and bribed their son's way back into the US. He was later found guilty of “culpable homicide” in absentia, but served no more time. The upside? The “pivotal” event sparked Burroughs' celebrated literary career.
9O.J. Simpson... Need We Say More?
This is perhaps the most famous court case of all time. But in case you are not familiar, it goes something like this: Nicole Brown Simpson, ex-wife of famed footballer OJ Simpson, was found viciously murdered, along with friend Ronald Goldman, just outside of her Brentwood home.
There was a lot of evidence: bloody footprints at the scene matched both Simpson's DNA as well as his very expensive-and-rare Bruno Magli shoes. Bloody socks at OJ's home tested positive for Nicole and Ron's blood. Long time friend Robert Kardashian stayed at the house in the days after the murder and was seen leaving with a suspicious garment bag.
There were a ton of witnesses for both sides, and it became known as the Crime of the Century. In the end, however, OJ Simpson was found not guilty of the murders.
How did they do this? Some people say evidence, such as the glove found at the scene of the crime that didn't fit, played into it. Others say that defense attorneys played the “race card” which helped exonerate him. There are still theories that OJ didn't do it at all, with one suggesting that his son Jason did it, and a recent documentary that pointed the finger at a serial killer named Glen Rogers.
But, guilty or innocent, it can hardly be said that he got off scot-free. Simpson's personal life and professional career became a shambles. He was convicted in a civil case, and is currently in jail on an unrelated charge.