From the bestselling author of The Defense Never Rests, a look at the modern spate of spousal homicides.
This book provides an overview of several of the most famous homicidal husband cases of recent years, including:
- Sam Sheppard, who inspired the TV series and movie The Fugitive
- Jeffrey McDonald, who became the subject of the bestseller Fatal Vision
- Mister Perfect, Brad Cunningham, who was convicted of bludgeoning his wife to death
- Michael Peterson, who was the subject of the IFC documentary series The Staircase and a Lifetime movie original starring Treat Williams
- OJ Simpson, whose dream team of lawyers defended the former pro-football player and movie star of the brutal murder of his ex-wife as the entire nation watched
- Claus von Bulow, immortalized in the book and movie Reversal of Fortune
- Robert Blake, former TV star, who was suspected of engineering the death of his conwoman wife
- Scott Peterson, a philandering sociopathic husband who almost escaped arrest for the murder of his wife and unborn child.
- Lambert "Bart" Knol, who claimed he suffered from "substance-induced persistent amnesia" when he was accused of killing his wife of 38 years
These cases and others are presented in an objective manner by a knowledgeable voice that recognizes that suspicion, and sometimes even conviction, are not always synonymous with guilt.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
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About the Author
F. Lee Bailey is a distinguished trial lawyer, author, and lecturer. His phenomenally successful career as a trial lawyer has been highlighted by such sensational cases as those of Dr. Sam Sheppard, Dr. Carl Coppolino, the Boston Strangler, Patty Hearst, and OJ Simpson. Of the murder trials that Bailey has handled, the conviction rate for his clients has been an amazingly low 4 percent. Among his previous books is the national bestseller, The Defense Never Rests. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and Miami, Florida.
Jean Rabe was a police blotter reporter before she began to write books. She resides in Kenosha, WI.
A former journalist and news bureau chief, Jean Rabe has written seventeen fantasy novels and more than three dozen fantasy, science-fiction, mystery, and military short stories. Among her works are the Finest trilogy from Tor and numerous Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books for TSR/WotC. She has edited several anthologies and has collaborated with Andre Norton on Return to Quag Keep and A Taste of Magic. She lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with her husband, two dogs, and a miniature macaw.
Read an Excerpt
After dinner guests left for the evening, and his pregnant wife had gone to bed, Dr. Sam Sheppard told police, he watched a movie. He said he eventually fell asleep and woke very early on the morning of July 4, 1954, having heard a noise upstairs. A moment later his wife, Marilyn, screamed and called his name. This was followed by more noises. Dr. Sheppard said he immediately thought his wife might be having painful convulsions (she'd had them before during her first pregnancy).
The home was dark, but there was a light in the upstairs dressing room. Dr. Sheppard ran upstairs to the master bedroom, where he said he saw a "white form" over his wife and next to the bed.
Dr. Sheppard claimed he wrestled with the figure, not knowing if it was a man or a woman, and was struck from behind and knocked unconscious.
When he regained consciousness, he saw that his wife was lying in a pool of blood on the bed; she had been beaten.
Dr. Sheppard said he found no pulse and ran to his son's room. The son was still sound asleep, and he decided not to disturb him yet.
There were more noises coming from downstairs, and Dr. Sheppard went to investigate and said he saw a man outside the screen door. He chased him down the back steps and onto the beach. Though it was still dark, Dr. Sheppard said he could make out a "large, powerfully built man with a good- sized head and bushy hair."
Dr. Sheppard said he lunged at the man, but ended up knocked unconscious again. When he came to, his legs were in the water and his head was on the sand. He returned to the house, went back to the bedroom, and called Spencer Houk—his friend and neighbor who was also mayor of their suburb, Bay Village.
Houk and his wife came to the house shortly before 6:00 a.m., and together they called the police.
Sheppard repeated his story to the police, Houk, and later to an expert from the Scientific Investigation Unit of the Cleveland police.
The next day, local newspapers ran Sheppard's story, applauding him for trying to catch the man who killed his wife.
Their support would soon evaporate.
SAM SHEPPARD'S BACKSTORY
The youngest of three sons, Sam was born in 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio, and later attended Cleveland Heights High School, where he served as class president three years. During his senior year he was recognized for his accomplishments in football, basketball, and track, and his senior class voted him "The Man Most Likely to Succeed."
He considered becoming a professional athlete and could have chosen one of several athletic scholarships offered by small colleges, but instead he followed in the footsteps of his father and older brothers and pursued osteopathic medicine.
During World War II, Sam decided to enlist in the army but was talked out of it by his father. Instead he enrolled at Hanover College in Indiana for preosteopathic courses. (In the summer, he studied at Western Reserve University in Cleveland.)
While he was at Hanover, Sam gave Marilyn his fraternity pin, which signaled their engagement. He'd first been introduced to her in high school, when she'd dated one of his brothers. Marilyn attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, while Sam continued his studies, graduating from the Los Angeles Osteopathic School of Physicians. In September 1945, he asked her to move to California with him. She agreed and they were quickly married. Marilyn wanted to start a family right away. Her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage but, in early 1947, she gave birth to Samuel Reese, who was quickly nicknamed Chip.
Sam graduated from medical school, finished his internship, and became a resident in neurosurgery at the Los Angeles County Hospital; however, at the urging of family, Sam, Marilyn, and Chip returned to Ohio in 1951, where Sam joined his father's hospital and family practices.
Their first house was a two- level Dutch Colonial in a Cleveland suburb. It was poised on a cliff above Lake Erie and close to Bay View Hospital.
While Sam worked, Marilyn stayed at home and tended the house. She taught Bible classes at the Methodist church. The Sheppards summered on the lake and co- owned an aluminum boat with neighbors J. Spencer and Esther Houk.
Sheppard reportedly had one affair during their marriage, which he said Marilyn knew about.
He said in the months before her death that their marriage had been improving.
Marilyn was four months pregnant on the night she was killed.
Cleveland police and a detective from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department investigated the scene, their efforts complicated by a house already filled with news reporters.
Sheppard, meanwhile, had been taken to the hospital and sedated.
As neighborhood boys helped search for evidence, the mayor's son soon found Sheppard's medical bag in the weeds near the beach.
This bag, along with other pieces of evidence, went through many different hands before the authorities tested for fingerprints.
The coroner arrived at 8:00 a.m. He estimated that Sheppard's wife had been killed between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M. The coroner determined she had nearly three dozen wounds on her head, and he noted that her watch had stopped at 3:15.
Meanwhile, investigators interviewed Sheppard at the hospital, even though he was still under the influence of the sedatives.
As police questioned Sheppard about his affair with a Bay View Hospital nurse, it was clear that they were skeptical that he had been knocked unconscious twice by a mystery man. They wondered why Sheppard's son had not woken up and if the family dog had barked during the struggle and at the noises Sheppard said he had heard. The police had found no obvious signs of a break- in in their preliminary investigation.
Though one of the investigators acknowledged that he suspected Sheppard had killed his wife, there was no arrest for a few weeks.
Sheppard posted a $10,000 reward for the capture of his wife's murderer, but it was left unclaimed.
In the media there was speculation that Sheppard was receiving special consideration from the mayor and police chief. Perhaps in response to these favoritism claims, the coroner soon announced an inquest into Marilyn Sheppard's death—more than two weeks after her body had been discovered.
Sheppard was extensively questioned during the proceedings, which his attorney was not allowed to attend, as it was not an official court action.
As questions continued to swirl around Sheppard's affair and the matter of the shakiness of his marriage, the nurse he'd had the affair with testified to sexual encounters that had gone on for years. The media reported the entire sordid story.
THE ARREST AND THE FIRST TRIAL
Twenty- five days after the murder, Sheppard was arrested.
On October 18, 1954, the trial began. It would last until just before Christmas of that year.
The prosecutor was John Mahon, assisted by Saul Danaceau and Thomas Parrino. Sheppard's attorney was William J. Corrigan, assisted by Fred Garmore, William Corrigan Jr., and Arthur Petersilge, the longtime Sheppard family lawyer.
The defense requested a change of venue. It was denied.
The names of prospective jurors had been published the month prior to the trial, and prospective jurors admitted receiving phone calls and threats, and were frequently questioned by the press. According to news reports, only one prospective juror said he had not read or heard about the case.
It took seventeen days to select the jury, and the panel was never sequestered during the trial.
The trial was a media circus from the first day. The jurors were bused to the Sheppard house to view the scene of the crime. The media had been notified ahead of time, and reporters waited at the property to take pictures and freely interview the jurors.
During the court proceedings, deputy coroner Lester Adelson described the autopsy and showed pictures of Marilyn Sheppard. He admitted to a lack of thoroughness at the autopsy, as they did not examine the contents of her stomach and did not test for rape . . . even though from the appearance of the body it certainly looked like she had been sexually assaulted.
Spencer and Esther Houk confirmed Sheppard's frantic call telling them his wife had been murdered, but Esther also cast some doubt on his story when she reported that the Sheppards had been known to argue.
Cuyahoga County coroner Sam Gerber testified to the gruesome condition of Marilyn's body, claiming: "In this bloodstain I could make out the impression of a surgical instrument." He further testified that she had been killed by blows to her head that had been made with a twin-bladed surgical instrument or something similar.
A physician who had treated Sheppard the afternoon of the murder testified that Sheppard's injuries were minor and primarily consisted of a black eye and cheekbone temple swelling, nothing serious enough to support the claim that he'd been knocked unconscious twice.
The prosecution also called Susan Hayes (the nurse with whom Sheppard had had an affair), who testified about her various rendezvous in Sheppard's car, in the clinic, and in her parents' house. She said she once received a watch from him, and said he had talked about getting a divorce so he could be with her all the time.
Defense attorneys questioned Sheppard's brother Steve, who disagreed with the physician who said Sheppard's injuries were minor. Steve also claimed that the Sheppards were happily married and did not fight. Sheppard's other brother, Richard, echoed that testimony.
Rebutting the prosecution's doctor, a Cleveland City Hospital neurologist reported that Sheppard's X-rays showed a fractured neck and a spinal cord bruise, and that the injuries might have occurred from a blow to the back of the neck. His diagnosis included a "cerebral concussion," and that Sheppard could not have faked his pain and injuries and could indeed have been knocked unconscious.
Additional defense witnesses claimed they saw a tall "bushy- haired man" lurking outside the Sheppard home the night before Marilyn was killed, and that they'd reported this to the police.
Sheppard also took the stand in his own defense, and questioning of him continued for several days. He admitted to other affairs, but was adamant that he loved his wife and that their marriage was good.
In closing, prosecutor Parrino stated: "If the burglar was in that room and took the time and trouble to strike all those vicious blows on Marilyn, I ask you why the assailant did not use that same instrument, not to hit Sam thirty- five times, but to strike one single blow against him. A burglar does not want to leave a living witness at the scene of a crime."
Parrino concluded that the notion of a "bushy-haired intruder" was fabricated.
Defense attorney Petersilge rebutted the evidence in his closing remarks. He said: "Five and one- half months after the murder of Marilyn Sheppard, the state does not know how she was killed, with what weapon she was killed, or why she was killed. Yet on the basis of this flimsy evidence, the state is asking you to send Sam Sheppard to the electric chair."
THE FIRST VERDICT
The jury had five verdicts to consider:
1. Guilty of murder in the first degree, death penalty
2. Guilty of murder in the first degree, recommending clemency, life without parole
3. Guilty of murder in the second degree—intentional, unpremeditated murder, life imprisonment
4. Guilty of manslaughter, sentencing one to twenty years
5. Not guilty
The jurors deliberated from December 17 to December 21, and though they were now sequestered, they were still allowed to make unsupervised telephone calls.
Sheppard was found guilty of murder in the second degree.
Sheppard, in a statement before sentencing (according to reports), claimed: "I'd like to say, sir, that I am not guilty. I feel there have been facts presented to this court that definitely prove that I could not have performed this crime."
The judge passed sentence. "It is the judgment of this court that you be taken to the Ohio penitentiary, there to remain for the rest of your natural life."
In recording for my boy what I have been subjected to, it will be necessary to make known American injustice perpetrated not by the laws of our land, but by those who have sworn themselves to uphold those laws. . . . A frightening breach of American rights has taken place, and the important point is that the breach has happened here in America, not who it has happened to.—Dr. Sam Sheppard in his prison journal, 1955
Shortly after Sam Sheppard's conviction, defense attorneys sought an in de pen dent study of the murder evidence.
Criminologist Paul Kirk collected additional evidence from the Sheppard home, including blood samples from the bedroom walls. He presented his report in the spring of 1955 and showed that a spot of blood in the bedroom did not match either Sheppard's or Marilyn's blood types. Further, he contended that based on the blood and the position of the victim's body, the killer had to have been left-handed.
Sheppard was right- handed.
Kirk also conjectured that the murder weapon was possibly a flashlight and not a surgical instrument.
Sheppard's attorneys immediately sought a new trial based on this evidence, but the motion was denied. This decision was appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals, which also rejected the motion for a new trial. In January 1956, the matter was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction. The minority opinion dissented and stated that Sheppard should be granted a new trial.
Attorneys continued to appeal, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court in August 1956.
Three months later, the court refused to hear the appeal.
A second appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in December of that year also failed.
A NEW APPROACH
The Sheppard family continued to press, turning to a Chicago Tribune crime reporter and then to attorney F. Lee Bailey.
In April 1963, Bailey .led a petition in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Bailey contended that Sheppard's rights had been denied during his initial trial, that the jurors knew all about the case from the media, and that the motion for a change of venue should have been granted.
The judge reviewed the material and ordered Sheppard released, subject to retrial—ten years and twelve days after his initial sentencing. The court agreed that his constitutional rights had indeed been violated and that the trial had been a "mockery of justice."
Sheppard brought a civil suit against The Cleveland Press, its publisher, and coroner Samuel Gerber, citing a breach of his civil rights because of wrongful imprisonment.
That case was dismissed by the trial court.
THE SECOND TRIAL AND SECOND VERDICT
Sheppard was tried again in November 1966, the judge this time ruling no cameras or artists in the courtroom. There were no press tables and no radio equipment, and observers could not leave and reenter the courtroom during the sessions. The judge approved the media representatives who would be allowed to attend.
Bailey argued for a change of venue, but the motion was denied.
The jurors were sequestered at a hotel for the entire length of the trial, and a bailiff monitored all their phone calls.
Bailey told the jurors: "You will be satisfied that Sam Sheppard did not kill his wife, and you will have a pretty good idea who did." Bailey questioned the coroner, who claimed the murder weapon was a surgical instrument.
"It looked like a surgical instrument to me," the coroner stated.
Bailey persisted: "Do you have such an instrument back at your office?"
"Have you ever seen such an instrument in any hospital or medical supply catalog or anywhere else, Dr. Gerber?"
"No, not that I can remember."
"Tell the jury, Doctor, where you have searched for this instrument during the past twelve years?"
"Oh, I have looked all over the United States."
"My goodness, then, please, by all means tell us what you found."
"I didn't find one."
Bailey also questioned a man who delivered bread to the Sheppards' home. The man testified he saw Marilyn give a key to a "distinguished- looking" man who was not her husband.
Bailey said the murderer must have had "an awful hate" for Marilyn Sheppard to kill her the way he did. He concluded: "Society has given Sam Sheppard a promissory note and it is payable now."
This time the jury had three verdicts to consider:
1. Guilty of second- degree murder, parole possible after ten years
2. Guilty of first- degree manslaughter, parole possible after eleven months, sentence not to exceed twenty years
3. Not guilty
Sheppard was found not guilty.
Despite the acquittal, Dr. Sheppard's life spiraled downward.
While in prison, Dr. Sheppard had written to Ariane Tebbenjohanns, a German divorcée. She and Dr. Sheppard married in Chicago the day after he'd been released.
He returned to medicine, but a malpractice suit .led for the death of a patient cost him both money and his reputation. It would also contribute to the demise of his second marriage.
In 1968, Ariane filed for divorce, alleging that Sheppard stole her money, threatened her, and was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
On his own again, Dr. Sheppard moved to Columbus for a time and worked as a pro wrestler.
In 1969, he married again, this time to twenty- year- old Colleen Strickland, the daughter of his wrestling manager.
In April 1970, Sheppard died of liver failure. (Defense attorney Bailey was one of the pallbearers.)
THE SAGA CONTINUED
A police officer reported tool marks on a basement door of the Sheppard house, even though the prosecution later contended there was no sign of a break- in. Furthermore, a trail of blood led from the upstairs bedroom to the basement and out the back porch toward the lake. The blood was not initially typed, but some of the blood that remained on a piece of wood from the house was later tested. DNA analysis suggested that the blood belonged to Richard Eberling, a man who occasionally washed windows for the Sheppards.
Other evidence also came to light after the trials.
A report found in the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office stated that a flashlight was found on the beach several yards from the Sheppard house. It was dented and its paint had chipped off. Chips of enamel paint had been found under the Sheppard's bed, but no testing was done to see if they matched the flashlight.
Sam Reese "Chip" Sheppard and Cynthia Cooper, a writer from New York, confronted the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office with the contention that Richard Eberling may have murdered Marilyn. They requested that the office reopen the criminal investigation.
The prosecutors declined.
When that failed, Sam Reese Sheppard initiated a civil lawsuit against the state for false imprisonment of his father. A family attorney tried to admit evidence suggesting Richard Eberling was involved, but unfortunately the court would not accept the evidence and nothing came of the trial.
The ruling in the spring of 2000 was that the Sheppard attorneys could not meet the "burden of proof" to show that Sam Sheppard was clearly innocent in the murder of his wife.
Eberling, who was considered a suspect by some close to the case, washed windows in the 1950s, including at the Sheppards' home, where he admitted dripping blood. Eberling was born Richard Lenardic in 1929, his mother single and abandoning him at birth. (His final foster father, George Eberling, did not adopt the boy. However, Richard legally changed his name to Eberling.)
In November 1959, Eberling was arrested for burglary near Cleveland. Police discovered a ring in his possession that had belonged to Marilyn Sheppard. Eberling admitted stealing the ring when he washed windows at the Sheppard house, though he claimed he did not kill Marilyn Sheppard.
In the 1980s, Eberling lived on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, with his companion O. B. Henderson, in a mansion filled with artwork. In 1987, police visited the mansion to question Eberling about a forged will. They'd received a tip from a woman, Patricia Bogar, who claimed that she had helped Eberling and Henderson forge a will that named Eberling the heir of the bulk of Ethel Durkin's estate, roughly $1.5 million. Eberling had worked as Durkin's caretaker. (Durkin had died early in 1984 in what was ruled an accidental fall; no autopsy was performed.)
Bogar also admitted to police that she helped Eberling stage burglaries, including one at her home, to claim insurance money. Bogar said she was snitching on Eberling because he did not give her a share of the Durkin estate.
Beverly and Dale Scheidler, witnesses to the Durkin will, confessed to their part in the scheme. (Later, Beverly Scheidler claimed Eberling killed Durkin.)
When police visited the Tennessee mansion, reports said they found antiques and other valuables, most of them stolen, including a painting from Cleveland City Hall.
Although Eberling denied killing Durkin, the coroner ruled the death a homicide after the body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed. In the summer of 1989, Eberling and Henderson were convicted of Ethel Durkin's murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Sam Reese Sheppard received a letter from Richard Eberling, who was in the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio. It said: "Sam, yes I do know the whole story." In an exchange of letters, Eberling detailed incidents about the Sheppards, including a time when Marilyn asked Eberling to look after young Sam and his cousin while she went out on an errand. One of Eberling's letters included a diagram of the Sheppard house.
Eventually, Sam Reese Sheppard visited Eberling in prison. More letters followed, in one of which Eberling claimed Marilyn had been murdered by Esther Houk and that Sheppard and Spencer Houk had perpetrated a cover- up.
Eberling said that one morning while he washed windows, he heard Esther arguing with Marilyn: "If you don't leave him alone, I'll kill you." It was that very afternoon Eberling said he cut a finger and dripped blood in the house.
He made other claims: That Dr. Sheppard was bisexual, that Esther thought Marilyn and her husband were having an affair, and that Esther's husband was in reality having an affair with Dr. Sheppard.
Kathie Collins, who once worked as a nurse for Ethel Durkin, stated that Eberling told her he'd killed Marilyn. Collins said her mother told her not to believe Eberling, so she kept the story to herself; however, when she heard about the Sheppard case again in the news in 1989, she contacted a Cleveland police detective, who reportedly dismissed her information.
Eberling died in prison at the age of sixty- eight. He reportedly told fellow inmates that he was hired by Sheppard to kill Marilyn, that he raped her, and that he twice knocked out Sheppard. Eberling had been known to change his story, and another version he told inmates mirrored the one he told Sam Reese Sheppard—that Esther Houk killed Marilyn, and that Esther and her husband covered up the crime.
COMMENTARY: Dr. Sam Sheppard
The saga of Sam Sheppard is a fitting introduction into the world of accused husband- killers, because it has a little bit of everything—most of it disgraceful. On the July 4 night in 1954 when Dr. Sheppard's life was turned upside down, his wife was in her bed on the second floor, and Sam was asleep on a couch under the stairway. A man saw a light burning in the window of the second- floor hallway, which was normally left lit when Sam was called out on emergency police business; he was the official police surgeon of Bay Village, Ohio, the lakeside Cleveland suburb where he lived. At some point Marilyn Sheppard was having intercourse with that person when another person arrived, caught the lovers in pari delicto, and proceeded to hit Marilyn in the head thirty- five times. None of these blows was fatal, indicating that the assailant was a woman or a child; Marilyn drowned in her own blood. It would be many years, long after Sam was dead, before it could be shown through DNA testing that someone other than Sam or Marilyn had left blood in the house that night. The chief of police of Bay Village told Dr. Steve Sheppard—Sam's older brother—that the police pretty much knew who had killed Marilyn, and that an arrest could be expected imminently.
That might all have happened had it not been for two very small men—both stretching to be five feet two inches—who decided to take over and control the case.
The first was Louis B. Seltzer, publisher of the then vaunted (and since bankrupt) Cleveland Press. Seltzer used his newspaper like a club, ordering politicians around like minions and intimidating everyone who disagreed with him. If Seltzer was roused, he would spread a personally penned editorial across eight columns of his newspaper, seeking to grind some unfortunate dissident under his heel. For some reason he took it upon himself to judge Dr. Sheppard guilty before the investigation had gotten off the ground, and demanded that he be arrested and prosecuted.
Samuel Gerber was the coroner of Cuyahoga County, which included Cleveland and Bay Village. Like most elected officials, when Louis Seltzer gave editorial encouragement to some function within the coroner's aegis, Gerber rushed to comply like a puppy dog seeking affection from its owner. Gerber conducted a circus, which he dubbed an "inquest," in the gymnasium of the Bay Village High School and kicked Sheppard's lawyer out. Seltzer's editorial handiwork had the attending crowd so worked up that some of those present "hugged and kissed the coroner."
Dr. Sheppard was duly charged and put to trial in what could only be viewed as a venomous atmosphere. Both the trial judge and the chief prosecutor were running for judicial office, and could hardly have been unaware of what the Cleveland Press wanted from them. Louis Seltzer's continuing drumroll—read by the jurors before and during the trial—was both simple and ingenious. He repeatedly suggested—in his eight-column, banner-headed editorials that:
1. The evidence against Sheppard was admittedly somewhat "thin."
2. Because the Sheppard family consisted of rich doctors—a father and three sons—and owned a clinic they were smart and powerful.
3. Being smart and powerful, the family acted swiftly to hide the important evidence, and protect the youngest and most prodigal member of their clan.
4. It would be unjust to allow Sam Sheppard to escape conviction just because he was smart enough to hide the evidence.
That this hideous little scheme worked like a charm was all too evident when the jury convicted Sheppard, then disclosed that, when they hadn't been able to resolve the case on the prosecution's evidence, which was confusing, they had decided to test Sheppard's testimony: If they disbelieved him, they would convict. They did, and did. Louis B. Seltzer had successfully transferred the burden of proof to the defendant. To make matters worse, he boasted about causing the conviction, in a biography he wrote titled, fatuously, The Years Were Good. No publisher thought it worth an investment, so Seltzer paid to have it printed himself.
After the trial, the defense was allowed access to the Sheppard home for the first time, and a forensic expert named Paul Leland Kirk discovered evidence that would have doubtless given even this jury pause. The courts would hear none of it. The Ohio Supreme Court, in an opinion that to this day is unique, split five to two in affirming the conviction. The two dissenters, Judges Taft and Hart, opined that the state of Ohio had proven Sheppard innocent with its own evidence. It should be noted that even Louis Seltzer could not shake a stick at either of these honored old- line Ohio families, Taft and Hart. The majority, in an opinion that at least one of its authors told me he would love to withdraw, declared that "in this atmosphere of a 'Roman Holiday' for the news media, Sam Sheppard stood trial for his life." This, they ruled, was okay in Ohio.
The United States Supreme Court declined to review the case, but Justice Felix Frankfurter, who may well have voted to accept it (four votes are needed to get into the U.S. Supreme Court, five to win) cautioned that a denial of review does not in any way suggest that the court approves of the judgment it declines to consider.
Ten years short fifteen days of the day when he was clapped in jail, Sheppard was released on a federal writ of habeas corpus by a United States district judge with the courage of a lion, Carl B. Weinman, who was outraged by the record in the case. He termed the conviction a "mockery of justice," and allowed the prosecution sixty days to retry Sheppard. The case wound up in the United States Supreme Court again, this time for full review. It remains the leading case in the ever- present tension between the right of a free press to say what ever it wants whenever it wishes to do so, and the right of a criminally accused person to a fair trial. The order for a new trial was affirmed, and the duty of trial judges to protect defendants appearing before them from the often-unfortunate zeal of the press was described in specific detail. These rules still govern the conduct of trial judges some forty years later.
Prosecutor John T. Corrigan decided to retry Sheppard, and the trial, which commenced in November 1966, remained in Cleveland. It was not a level playing field. Between the forensic evidence of Dr. Kirk and Sam Gerber's making a fool of himself on the witness stand, it took the jury only a matter of hours to declare Sheppard "not guilty."
Sam Sheppard died in May 1970 from causes attributed to cancer cells placed in his armpits as part of a Sloan- Kettering experiment for which he had volunteered while in prison, as well as an excess of pills and booze. His funeral was attended by more news cameras than mourners. He never knew that DNA evidence would remove the last show of doubt from his alleged complicity in the slaying of his wife.
Excerpted from When the Hushand Is the Suspect by F. LEE BAILEY with Jean Rabe
Copyright © 2008 by F. LEE BAILEY and The Literary Group International
Published in 2008 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was short and sweet and didn't get into graphic details
Completely biased but still interesting. I'm really not a fan of Bailey's whining about how men are always considered the suspect, particularly when they are close to the victim. Most victims of violent crime know their attacker, not only that, but the VAST majority of violent offenders are men. Not that it excuses shoddy investigative techniques, but really, investigating the spouse is the most useful track.Also I hate the fact that Bailey defines "uxoricide" as the killing of one's spouse. Uxoricide comes from the Latin, uxor, which means wife. Technically this would only refer to wife-murder. Although this might be just a legalese mistake and not a mistake of Bailey's. Addmittedly, it's also nitpicky.
This book was interesting if you're interested in the topic. There are several errors that appear to be of the typographical variety, which were a bit annoying. The book mainly just give details of each crime, the court proceedings and the outcomes. Bailey then gives his opinion briefly.
This book is nothing but cheap schlock, masquerading as intelligent examination of the issues. I gave it an extra star for attempting to tackle the subject of men who murder their wives.
After reading this book, I decided not to do away with my husband. This book is entertaining, and very informative especially the parts at the end of each chapter, in italics, where Atty. Bailey does his succinct and polished writing.