Murder, Culture, and Injustice
Four Sensational Cases in American History
Publication Year: 2000
Published by: The University of Akron Press
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The four murder cases and the subsequent criminal trials analyzed in this book are among the most sensational in American history. As primordial dramas involving murder within or against a socially prominent family, the Lizzie Borden, Lindbergh baby, Sam Sheppard, and O. J. Simpson cases riveted the public. ...
I - Gendered Justice: Lizzie Borden and Victorian America
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Lizzie Borden, at age 33, as she appeared a year after the murders. She was active in the Central Congregational Church, Christian Endeavor, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Fruit and Flower Mission. Given Miss Lizzie’s appearance of schoolmarmish normality, most residents of Fall River found it difficult to conceive of her carrying out the brutal hatchet murders. ...
II - Vengeance: Bruno Richard Hauptmann and The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping
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The Lindbergh baby, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. The dimpled, curly haired son of a popular American hero was born on his mother’s birthday, June 22, 1930. The kidnapping on March 1, 1932, shocked the nation and precipitated an arduous criminal investigation. The baby’s body was not discovered in its shallow grave until more than two months after the kidnapping and murder. ...
III - Vendetta: Sam Sheppard and The North Shore Nightmare
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High school sweethearts Marilyn Reese and Sam Sheppard married in Hollywood in 1945 while Sam attended the Los Angeles College of Osteopathic Physicians. Returning to Cleveland, where his father had staked out a thriving practice of osteopathic medicine, Sam purchased a white Dutch colonial home on the lakefront in the elite western suburb of Bay Village. It was there that Marilyn Sheppard was bludgeoned to death in the early morning hours of July 4, 1954. ...
IV - A House Divided: Race and The O. J. Simpson Case
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Orenthal James Simpson, flanked by defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey and Johnnie Cochran (right) exults in triumph as the jury announces the verdict of “not guilty” at the conclusion of his trial for double homicide on October 3, 1995. The Simpson jury, sequestered for almost a full year during the nationally televised trial, spent less than two hours discussing the mountain of evidence assembled in the case. The jury in the subsequent, and much shorter, civil trial deliberated for 13 hours before issuing three judgments against Simpson totalling $33.5 million. ...
V - Conclusion: Sensational Murder and American Justice
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This study of four sensational murder cases in American history illuminates the vulnerabilities of the criminal justice system, especially in high-profile cases. Celebrity trials,with their feverish media coverage, place inordinant pressures on those responsible for administering criminal justice. As we have seen in all four cases, police, attorneys, judges, and juries often succumb to those pressures, particularly in sensational murder trials. ...
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Page Count: 167
Illustrations: 23 photos
Publication Year: 2000