Sam Sheppard trials
On July 4, 1954, the wife of a handsome young doctor, Sam Sheppard, was brutally murdered in the bedroom of their home in Bay Village, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie. Sheppard denied any involvement in the murder and described his own battle with the killer he described as "bushy-haired." Starting on the day of the murder, the media began to attack Sheppard on any occasion they could. Stories were obtained in unethical, and nearly unlawful ways. Even though they were permitted to do so by the courts, going into Sheppard's house and looking through his belongings was not the most ethical practice. Also, though the courts also allowed them to witness the testimony of Sheppard about his wife's death, they really shouldn't have agreed. Stories were written in an unscrupulous manner. The “trial before the trial” was a meeting between the coroner, Samuel Gerber, and Sheppard, in which Gerber fired questions at Sheppard in front of the entire community – without Sheppard’s lawyer present. The media was allowed to sit in on this hearing and wrote stories about Sheppard being unfairly given too much leeway as a murder suspect (law2). Finally, the amount of stories written about the trial and murder was higher than had been printed in Cleveland about a single murder. Cleveland newspapers printed stories almost every single day for the duration of the situation. Most of these were speculation only, however, or editorials that were run on the front page and believed to be actual articles. Because of the way these stories were run, the jury and most of Cleveland believed that Sheppard was, in fact, guilty (384 U.S. 333, 363). The stories written through the duration of the murder case were one of the main things that were detrimental to Sheppard’s case. The jury’s view of Sheppard was adversely affected by the news stories such as the most famous one of all: “Somebody Is Getting Away With Murder”. They printed biased stories...
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