7 Of The Most Shocking Trial Verdicts In History

These verdicts were so shocking, some of them even inspired nationwide protests.

By Kat George

Courtroom dramas aren’t just the stuff of television soaps and sagas. Real life can sometimes be just as shocking as fantasy. Oxygen’s The Jury Speaks, premiering Saturday, July 22 at 9/8c, looks at some of the most unbelievable trials in history – and examines the verdicts that made us gasp from the perspective of the jurors. If you’ve ever wondered why a juror voted the way they did, and how it affected the rest of their lives, The Jury Speaks has first hand interviews with the jurors whose verdicts changed the world. In the meantime, ere are some of the most shocking trial verdicts in history.

1. George Zimmerman

Neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman infamously shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. After police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman was briefly questioned but not arrested, with the local police chief saying there wasn’t enough evidence to counter Zimmerman’s claim that he had acted in self defense. When the incident hit the media, protests rippled across America, and six weeks after the shooting Zimmerman was finally arrested. On trial, Zimmerman’s representatives argued self defense, and he was shockingly found not guilty of murder, despite accusations of racial profiling.

2. Darren Wilson

Black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014. Brown had allegedly been involved in a robbery shortly before he was confronted by Wilson. The two scuffled, fighting for Wilson’s gun, and Brown eventually broke free and fled. Wilson pursued him, and eventually caught up. Brown, unarmed and surrendering, was held by Wilson at gunpoint, and allegedly took a step towards Wilson – at which point, Wilson fired. A total of twelve bullets were discharged from Wilson’s weapon, and Brown was shot six times. Like the Zimmerman case, protests alleging racial profiling took over the U.S., and when Wilson was found not guilty at trial, riots erupted in Ferguson and across the country.



3. O.J. Simpson

Probably the most famous case in American history, former footballer O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her partner, Ronald Goldman, despite compelling evidence. DNA evidence including bloody footprints and a glove, not to mention a high speed police chase in which Simpson was high-tailing for the Mexican border with a bag of cash weren’t enough to return a guilty verdict, and the country was polarized by the outcome. The verdict, watched lived by millions of Americans, shocked the nation.

4. Casey Anthony

In June, 2008, Casey Anthony’s four year old daughter, Caylee, went missing in Orange County, Florida. However, Casey didn’t report her daughter missing until July. Once the police began investigating, they found evidence suggesting Casey was responsible for her daughter’s disappearance. On trial, Casey changed her story multiple times and made up lies that were debunked. Despite decomposing human remains found in the trunk of Casey’s car, the jury still decided there was reasonable doubt, and acquitted her of her daughter’s murder, and angry, disbelieving crowds protested at the courthouse and outside Casey’s parents’ house.

5. Lorena Bobbitt

In a fit of rage, Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis. She also threw it out a car window on a Virginia highway. At trial, Lorena said her husband was abusive and had raped her during their marriage. Shockingly, despite overwhelming evidence, Lorena was acquitted of the crime on the grounds of insanity. Meanwhile, John’s penis was surgically reattached, and he went on to star in porn films.

6. Amanda Knox

In 2009, Seattle student Amanda Knox was studying in Italy, where she lived with her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found raped and murdered in their flat, and Knox, along with her Italian boyfriend Rafael Sollecito and Ivory Coast immigrant Rudy Guede, were found guilty of the crime. The public found she was treated unfairly by the Italian courts, which were accused of being biased against her as an American. There were also suggestions that evidence against her had been tainted in the process of investigation. Knox was re-tried and acquitted in 2013, when she went back to America. In a shocking twist, Italian courts retried her in her absence, once again finding her guilty. There was another appeal, and she was exonerated in 2015.

7. Brock Turner

Brock Turner was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman by two witnesses. Turner was sentenced to only six months (and would only serve three), which left the public in a state of outrage, given his guilt, and the severity of his crime. Further outraged was caused as the judge’s decision hinged on the “impact” of the crime on Turner, rather than his victim.

[Photos: Getty Images and Wikipedia Commons]

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