Sam Sheppard Essay Research Paper The media

Sam Sheppard Essay, Research Paper

The media had to much power and are the ones who put Sam Sheppard in jail in

1954. On the evening of July 3, 1954 Dr. Sam Sheppard and his pregnant wife were

having the neighbors over for drinks. They invited them to thier home witch was on lake

Erie. Sam fell asleep on the couch before the neighbors left. His wife, Marilyn, then let

the neighbors out and went to bed herself around midnight. Sheppard woke up to loud

screams sometime later.

When Sheppard herd the screams he rushed upstairs to his bedroom. He saw a

?white form? standing beside his wife on their bed. Sam then tried to attack the form but

was clubbed on the neck and quickly blacked out. He then herd a noise and went racing

downstairs. He then saw the intruder and chased him out the backdoor and onto the

beach, he noticed the man had busy hair. While he was chasing the intruder he leapt at

him and tackled him from behind. They struggled for a few minutes and then Sheppard

was knocked out again. When he came to he was partially submerged in water, he got up

and staggered back to his house and called for help.(courtroom drama)

Sam called his neighbor Spen Houk, the mayor. The police Dan Sam?s brothers

Richard and Steve were called. His brothers then took him to the hospital. The

newspapers however said that the Sheppards sped him off to the family hospital and kept

him away from the investigation. They did not report however that the police at the scene

had no objections with Sam going to the hospital, or the fact that Sam was questioned

three different times on the day of the murder or that he had a full-scale questioning four

days later with no counsel present. Those facts did not matter, the newspapers were

spreading the idea that Sam Sheppard was rich enough and had enough influence to get

away with murder. (Cooper)

For the next few weeks the papers were crazy with Sheppard stories, they were

accusing him left and right. They were continually pressuring the police. They even called

for an inquest. Also, some of the media speculation was due to the discovery of a canvas

bag at his house that included a watch, a fraternity ring, and a key. This made people

believe that he faked a robbery. Then it was revealed that he was involved with another

women, the media went crazy.(courtroom drama)

On July 30, an article called ?Quit stalling – bring him in!? was run by the leading

media hound of Sheppard, Lois B. Seltzer. That night police arrested Sheppard at his

parents home on the charges of murder. Outside of the house was a carnival. When

Sheppard was lead out of the house people started to cheer. The grand jury indicted Sam

on August 17, Dan is trial began a month later. Before the trial even started the judge,

Judge Blythin, told reporters that Sam was ?guilty has hell?. Sam Sheppard was blamed

with second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison on December 21, 1954.

(internet site)

Sheppards attorneys were not even able to get into Sam?s house until after the trial

to collect evidence. Corrigan, Sheppards attorney, hired Dr. Paul Leland Kirk. Kirk was

a nationally known criminologist from the University of California. Kirk turned up lots of

great evidence that proves Sheppards innocence. He determined that the killer was left

handed, and Sam is right handed. He also found a spot of blood that did not belong to

either Sam or Marilyn. ?He also said that Sam?s story was consistent with the known

facts, and that the technical evidence presented by the prosecution had been worthless.

But petitions for a new trial on the basis of Dr. Kirk?s findings were turned down by the

courts, as were other appeals over the years.?(Bailey)

After Sam?s conviction his mother shot herself and his father died of cancer in less

than a month. He survived in jail by writing to his son, working has a surgeon for limited

pay, letting doctors use him for medical research, participating in athletics and made and

sold religious jewelry. The years in jail were bitter ones for Sam Sheppard, none of the

appeals succeeded. The nations legal system had failed him. He was in jail for a crime he

did not commit, and to boot half of his family was dead because of it, his wife, his mother

and his father. Think about what it must be like to have all the time in the world to think

about something that you did not do, or had no control over.(Cooper)

In August 1961, the young lawyer F. Lee Bailey red the book Sheppard Murder

case by Paul Homes. When Bailey read the book it made him furious at what the state of

Ohio had done to Sam. Bill Corrigna had died the last summer and Sheppard needed a

lawyer. In November 1961 F. Lee Bailey took up the case. In April 1963 the US

supreme court brodened the law of habeas corpus by saying that trial judges were not

guarding the rights of the accused and empowered federal judges to check into every

aspect of trials involving appeals of habeas corpus. This greatly helped Sheppards cause.

Bailey field legal paper after legal paper, most of witch were about Sheppard

wanting to take a lie detector test. He filed a petition to Mel G. Underwood a Federal

District court judge in Columbus. Underwood passed the petition for a writ of habeas

corpus to Carl A. Weinman, the chief judge for the southern district of Ohio. On Janurary

17, 1964 a pretrial conferences started with judge Weinman. While in Manhattan Bailey

met Dorothy Kilgallen and she told him of the off record remarks of judge Blythin. This

was grounds enough for a new trial. (Bailey, courtroom drama)

Finally on July 15, 1964 Judge Wienman handed down his decision on the

Sheppard case. Basically he said that the court had found five separate violations of

Sheppards constitutional rights. He gave the state sixty days to come up with a new trial

and he ordered Sam?s immediate release. The state tried last ditched effort of keeping

Sam in. A week after his release he appeared before the US court of appeals in Ohio and

they ruled Sam free. The case then went to Federal court of appeals in Cincinnati. They

ruled that Sam go back to jail. Bailey appealed to the supreme court and they herd the

case on February 28, 1965. On June 6, 1966 it was announced that Bailey had won the

supreme court case because Judge Blythin had failed to protect Sheppard Dan a retrial

was to be scheduled.(Bailey)

John Corrigan was the prosecuting attorney for the second trial. The prosecution

planned to employ the same strategy has before and cal the same witnesses. But this time

the defense was better prepared with evidence Dan the prosecution did not have a media

carnival on their side.

The prosecutions first witness was officer Robert Schottke. He was a homicide

detective for the Cleveland police and the star witness the first trial. This guy thought he

was Dick Tracy. He questioned Sheppard in the hospital hours after the murder occurred.

He thought that it was Sheppard from the start and he did not back down. Bailey mad him

look like a blubbering fool. He asked Schottke why he had not checked finger prints on

Sheppards fraternity ring and watch before accusing him. He also asked him about

Sheppards injuries. Bailey got Schottke to admit that he accused Sheppard without first

determining that he even could be guilty or not.(Bailey, courtroom drama)

The prosecution also called Dr. Samuel Gerber, The number one witness at the

first trial. At the first trial Gerber made most of his case out of the bloodstains on

Marilyn?s pillow. He said that they came from a surgical instrument, one that he has never

seen. Corrigan did not want to use the surgical instrument theory when he examined

Gerber in the court. But on Bailey?s cross-examination he asked Gerber what he had seen

on the bloodstain imprint and he said ? It looked like a Surgical instrument to me?. Then

bailey got Gerber to admitt that he had never handled such and instrument and that he was

not even a surgeon. Then Bailey put the nail in the coffin on Gerber. He asked him if he

had ever seen on in any hospitl before and Gerber said no. Bailey than asked where as

Gerber looked for one in the past twelve years, Gerber replied ?I have looked all over the

United states.?(Bailey)

The prosecution next called Gerber?s assistant, Marry Cowan. Bailey also chewed

her apart. He has her admit that the murder was committed by a left handed person and

that Sheppard was right handed.

The defenses two main strategies were Dr. Kirk, and keeping Sheppard off the

stand. Baileys reason for keeping Sheppard off the stand was his condition. He was

begining to drink heavily has a crutch and losing his grip on life, at points during the trail

Sam did not even know what was going on around him. He has to make the prosecution

think that Sam was going to testify. He told people that Sheppard would obviously testify

and the prosecution would play off this with a rebuttal witness form the penitentiary

named Frenchy. But since Sam never testified Frenchy did not take the stand and Bailey

successfully tricked the prosecution. (Bailey)

The defenses main weapon in this case was Dr. Kirk. He proved that the

bloodstained pillow was not a surgical instrument but blood splattered from the attack

Dan then the pillow was folded over itself and created a mirror image. He also determined

that Sam was right handed and the attacker was left handed, Dan he found someone else?s

blood in the room.

When Kirk was called to the stand by the defense he proved all of these points to

the court. He also gave a lecture on blood and how it dries and blood types and how its

splatters and things of this sort. Kirks testimony was too good for Corrigan to Have a

good cross examination, he only asked limited questions.(Cooper)

Baileys called a few other witnesses to refuted Gerber, one who pointed to the

suspect in the murder and Sam?s dentist. The dentist showed how Sam?s mouth injuries

could not of been committed by Sam himself. The last witness was an osteopath, DR

Elkins. He proved to the court that Sam?s neck and back injuries couldn?t of been

committed upon himself.

For the closing statement Bailey compared the state of Ohio to a women who

dropped her dollar. When asked why the lady was not looking for her dollar near where

she dropped it, but under the streetlight. The lady replied ?Because the light is better over


The judge in this second case was common Pleas Judge Francis J. Talty. He was a

no-nonsense judge who gave the defendant a fair trial. He was very strict on the press.

He ordered all photographers to stay outside the courtroom. He also only assigned

fourteen seats to the press. Bailey thought that this is not what the supreme court

intended, he thought that the judge had too much power in this case. It took over a week

to select the jury, most of them were relatively young. They ruled on November 16, 1966,

that Sam Sheppard was not guilty. On April 6, 1970 Sam died of liver cancer at the age of


The Sam Sheppard fiasco became so important because of media attention. They

had to much power in this case. They blamed Sam before the trail even began and all the

people believe them, Sam was basically screwed from the start. There have been Supreme

court case ruling saying that the judges aren?t protecting the defendents well enough and

gave the state supreme courts more power to intervene. It became almost like a


I think that there were brutal crimes committed. Not only the murder, but what

the press did to Sam, they basically sealed his fate for him. They have no right to such

power. The media are the ones who made Sheppard a suspect in the first place, and they

pressured police to bring him in. I think that the first trial was unbelievably unfair to Sam

but the second trail as how it is suppose to happen. The trial judge from the first trial even

said that Sam was ? Guilty has hell? before the trial even started. The media was

everywhere saying that Sam was guilty, and in was basically impossible to find jurors who

have not been swayed by the media. I think that the verdict and punishment of the first

case was defiantly wrong. It was a fair punishment to the verdict, but that verdict was

proven wrong. I am happy with the outcome of the second trail though. So in conclusion

to this paper, I say that the only reason that Sam was ever arrested or convicted was

because of the media and its wrongful power over the case.


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