Dr. Sam Sheppard
Anyone who has ever seen The Fugitive (1993) knows the riveting story of Dr. Sam Sheppard and his wife, Marilyn Sheppard, who was found beaten to death in their bedroom in 1954. Sheppard told police he had been hit by a “bushy-haired” intruder and pleaded innocent in his wife’s murder. During his trial, prosecutors argued that Sheppard’s three-year affair with a nurse was a motive for his wife’s murder. Sheppard didn’t deny the affair but maintained he had been sleeping in another room when he awoke to his wife’s screams and ran to her bedroom, where he was knocked unconscious. His lawyer provided medical evidence that Sheppard had suffered a concussion as a result of the blows, which resulted in memory loss and inconsistent testimonies. But the jury wasn’t convinced, and Sheppard was sentenced to life in jail for second-degree murder. After serving nine years, his case went to the Supreme Court, with his lawyer arguing that Sheppard’s rights to due process and a fair trial were violated by the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding the trial. As it turned out, fabricated stories spun by the media had swayed the jury’s sentence, and Sheppard was acquitted. Years later, DNA tests finally cleared him of the murder, and another suspect was named, though never proved guilty.