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Sam Sheppard and Power of Media

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The media had to much power and are the ones who put Sam Sheppard in jail in1954. On the evening of July 3, 1954 Dr. Sam Sheppard and his pregnant wife werehaving the neighbors over for drinks. They invited them to thier home witch was on lakeErie. Sam fell asleep on the couch before the neighbors left. His wife, Marilyn, then letthe neighbors out and went to bed herself around midnight. Sheppard woke up to loudscreams sometime later.

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

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He saw awhite form standing beside his wife on their bed. Sam then tried to attack the form butwas clubbed on the neck and quickly blacked out. He then herd a noise and went racingdownstairs. He then saw the intruder and chased him out the backdoor and onto thebeach, he noticed the man had busy hair. While he was chasing the intruder he leapt athim and tackled him from behind. They struggled for a few minutes and then Sheppardwas knocked out again.

When he came to he was partially submerged in water, he got upand staggered back to his house and called for help.(courtroom drama)Sam called his neighbor Spen Houk, the mayor. The police Dan Sams brothersRichard and Steve were called. His brothers then took him to the hospital. Thenewspapers however said that the Sheppards sped him off to the family hospital and kepthim away from the investigation. They did not report however that the police at the scenehad no objections with Sam going to the hospital, or the fact that Sam was questionedthree different times on the day of the murder or that he had a full-scale questioning fourdays later with no counsel present. Those facts did not matter, the newspapers werespreading the idea that Sam Sheppard was rich enough and had enough influence to getaway with murder. (Cooper)For the next few weeks the papers were crazy with Sheppard stories, they wereaccusing him left and right. They were continually pressuring the police. They even calledfor an inquest. Also, some of the media speculation was due to the discovery of a canvasbag at his house that included a watch, a fraternity ring, and a key. This made peoplebelieve that he faked a robbery. Then it was revealed that he was involved with anotherwomen, the media went crazy.(courtroom drama)On July 30, an article called Quit stalling – bring him in! was run by the leadingmedia hound of Sheppard, Lois B. Seltzer. That night police arrested Sheppard at hisparents home on the charges of murder. Outside of the house was a carnival. WhenSheppard was lead out of the house people started to cheer. The grand jury indicted Samon 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 blamedwith 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 Sams house until after the trialto collect evidence. Corrigan, Sheppards attorney, hired Dr. Paul Leland Kirk. Kirk wasa nationally known criminologist from the University of California. Kirk turned up lots ofgreat evidence that proves Sheppards innocence. He determined that the killer was lefthanded, and Sam is right handed. He also found a spot of blood that did not belong toeither Sam or Marilyn. He also said that Sams story was consistent with the knownfacts, and that the technical evidence presented by the prosecution had been worthless.

But petitions for a new trial on the basis of Dr. Kirks findings were turned down by thecourts, as were other appeals over the years.(Bailey)After Sams conviction his mother shot herself and his father died of cancer in lessthan a month. He survived in jail by writing to his son, working has a surgeon for limitedpay, letting doctors use him for medical research, participating in athletics and made andsold religious jewelry. The years in jail were bitter ones for Sam Sheppard, none of theappeals succeeded. The nations legal system had failed him. He was in jail for a crime hedid not commit, and to boot half of his family was dead because of it, his wife, his motherand his father. Think about what it must be like to have all the time in the world to thinkabout 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 Murdercase by Paul Homes. When Bailey read the book it made him furious at what the state ofOhio had done to Sam. Bill Corrigna had died the last summer and Sheppard needed alawyer. In November 1961 F. Lee Bailey took up the case. In April 1963 the USsupreme court brodened the law of habeas corpus by saying that trial judges were notguarding the rights of the accused and empowered federal judges to check into everyaspect of trials involving appeals of habeas corpus. This greatly helped Sheppards cause. Bailey field legal paper after legal paper, most of witch were about Sheppardwanting to take a lie detector test. He filed a petition to Mel G. Underwood a FederalDistrict court judge in Columbus. Underwood passed the petition for a writ of habeascorpus to Carl A. Weinman, the chief judge for the southern district of Ohio. On Janurary17, 1964 a pretrial conferences started with judge Weinman. While in Manhattan Baileymet Dorothy Kilgallen and she told him of the off record remarks of judge Blythin. Thiswas grounds enough for a new trial. (Bailey, courtroom drama) Finally on July 15, 1964 Judge Wienman handed down his decision on theSheppard case. Basically he said that the court had found five separate violations ofSheppards constitutional rights. He gave the state sixty days to come up with a new trialand he ordered Sams immediate release. The state tried last ditched effort of keepingSam in. A week after his release he appeared before the US court of appeals in Ohio andthey ruled Sam free. The case then went to Federal court of appeals in Cincinnati. Theyruled that Sam go back to jail. Bailey appealed to the supreme court and they herd thecase on February 28, 1965. On June 6, 1966 it was announced that Bailey had won thesupreme court case because Judge Blythin had failed to protect Sheppard Dan a retrialwas to be scheduled.(Bailey)John Corrigan was the prosecuting attorney for the second trial. The prosecutionplanned to employ the same strategy has before and cal the same witnesses. But this timethe defense was better prepared with evidence Dan the prosecution did not have a mediacarnival on their side. The prosecutions first witness was officer Robert Schottke. He was a homicidedetective for the Cleveland police and the star witness the first trial. This guy thought hewas 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 himlook like a blubbering fool. He asked Schottke why he had not checked finger prints onSheppards fraternity ring and watch before accusing him. He also asked him aboutSheppards injuries. Bailey got Schottke to admit that he accused Sheppard without firstdetermining that he even could be guilty or not.(Bailey, courtroom drama)The prosecution also called Dr. Samuel Gerber, The number one witness at thefirst trial. At the first trial Gerber made most of his case out of the bloodstains onMarilyns pillow. He said that they came from a surgical instrument, one that he has neverseen. Corrigan did not want to use the surgical instrument theory when he examinedGerber in the court. But on Baileys cross-examination he asked Gerber what he had seenon the bloodstain imprint and he said It looked like a Surgical instrument to me. Thenbailey got Gerber to admitt that he had never handled such and instrument and that he wasnot even a surgeon. Then Bailey put the nail in the coffin on Gerber. He asked him if hehad ever seen on in any hospitl before and Gerber said no. Bailey than asked where asGerber looked for one in the past twelve years, Gerber replied I have looked all over theUnited states.(Bailey)The prosecution next called Gerbers assistant, Marry Cowan. Bailey also chewedher apart. He has her admit that the murder was committed by a left handed person andthat Sheppard was right handed.

The defenses two main strategies were Dr. Kirk, and keeping Sheppard off thestand. Baileys reason for keeping Sheppard off the stand was his condition. He wasbegining to drink heavily has a crutch and losing his grip on life, at points during the trailSam did not even know what was going on around him. He has to make the prosecutionthink that Sam was going to testify. He told people that Sheppard would obviously testifyand the prosecution would play off this with a rebuttal witness form the penitentiarynamed Frenchy. But since Sam never testified Frenchy did not take the stand and Baileysuccessfully tricked the prosecution. (Bailey)The defenses main weapon in this case was Dr. Kirk. He proved that thebloodstained pillow was not a surgical instrument but blood splattered from the attackDan then the pillow was folded over itself and created a mirror image. He also determinedthat Sam was right handed and the attacker was left handed, Dan he found someone elsesblood in the room. When Kirk was called to the stand by the defense he proved all of these points tothe court. He also gave a lecture on blood and how it dries and blood types and how itssplatters and things of this sort. Kirks testimony was too good for Corrigan to Have agood cross examination, he only asked limited questions.(Cooper)Baileys called a few other witnesses to refuted Gerber, one who pointed to thesuspect in the murder and Sams dentist. The dentist showed how Sams mouth injuriescould not of been committed by Sam himself. The last witness was an osteopath, DRElkins. He proved to the court that Sams neck and back injuries couldnt of beencommitted upon himself. For the closing statement Bailey compared the state of Ohio to a women whodropped her dollar. When asked why the lady was not looking for her dollar near whereshe dropped it, but under the streetlight. The lady replied Because the light is better overhere.

The judge in this second case was common Pleas Judge Francis J. Talty. He was ano-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 assignedfourteen seats to the press. Bailey thought that this is not what the supreme courtintended, he thought that the judge had too much power in this case. It took over a weekto 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 of46.(Bailey)The Sam Sheppard fiasco became so important because of media attention. Theyhad to much power in this case. They blamed Sam before the trail even began and all thepeople believe them, Sam was basically screwed from the start. There have been Supremecourt case ruling saying that the judges arent protecting the defendents well enough andgave the state supreme courts more power to intervene. It became almost like apresedent.

I think that there were brutal crimes committed. Not only the murder, but whatthe press did to Sam, they basically sealed his fate for him. They have no right to suchpower. The media are the ones who made Sheppard a suspect in the first place, and theypressured police to bring him in. I think that the first trial was unbelievably unfair to Sambut the second trail as how it is suppose to happen. The trial judge from the first trial evensaid that Sam was Guilty has hell before the trial even started. The media waseverywhere saying that Sam was guilty, and in was basically impossible to find jurors whohave not been swayed by the media. I think that the verdict and punishment of the firstcase was defiantly wrong. It was a fair punishment to the verdict, but that verdict wasproven wrong. I am happy with the outcome of the second trail though. So in conclusionto this paper, I say that the only reason that Sam was ever arrested or convicted wasbecause of the media and its wrongful power over the case.

American History

Cite this Sam Sheppard and Power of Media

Sam Sheppard and Power of Media. (2019, Jan 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/sam-sheppard-and-power-of-media/

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