Court trials have become spectacles for the American public.
Heroes and villains are made in the media and court trials have a way of dividing America. They serve as entertainment as the public roots for or against defendants.
Controversial cases always make for controversial verdicts; and we’ve seen many in the last 20 years.
Here’s a list of the top 5 most controversial court verdicts of all time.
5. Casey Anthony
Casey Anthony was accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter Kaylee in Orlando, Florida. She would be charged with murder and the prosecution would call for the death penalty. The trial would last for six weeks and attract a ton of media attention. Anthony would later be found not guilty of murdering her daughter due to reasonable doubt.
The verdict sent many Americans across the country into an uproar, and forced police to protect Anthony from threats of violence.
4. Sean Bell Trial
After Sean Bell was killed by New York City police outside a club in Queens, New York, three officers were later charged in the shooting which consisted of 50 shots shot into a vehicle full of unarmed men.
Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver were charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault. The policemen chose to have the verdict chosen by a judge and a jury and were found not guilty of all charges.
3. O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson was charged with killing his wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman outside his house in Brentwood, California.
O.J. would be defended by legendary lawyer Johnnie Cochran in what many call the “trial of the century.” O.J. would be found not guilty of murder and the reaction to the verdict would cause racial tension.
2. Rodney King
In 1991, a bystander recorded several police officers brutally beating Rodney King on his camera. Sergeant Stacey Koon and officers Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano were charged with using excessive force. The trial was transferred from Los Angeles to the mostly white and conservative Simi Valley, where they were found not guilty despite the video evidence.
1. Oscar Grant Verdict
On New Year’s eve 2009, Bay Area Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle, was recorded killing unarmed Oscar Grant while on the ground in handcuffs. Mehserle would be found not guilty of both second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, but found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
He wound up being sentenced to two years in prison — but only served one — and was recently release to much anger from many across the country.