The Top Four Most Surprising Acquittals of All Time


In 1924, Chicago resident Belva Gaertner was arrested for the murder of Walter Law, who was found in Gaertner’s car having died of gunshot wounds from Gaertner’s gun, which was also in the vehicle. Gaertner was at home in bloodied clothing when the police arrested her. She admitted going dancing the previous night with Law but said she had no memory of anything that happened later that evening and never confessed to his murder. Gaertner’s ex-husband retained a well-known lawyer and at trial, her defense argued that the evidence against her was circumstantial, as there were no witnesses and the state lacked solid evidence. Gaertner was acquitted after a short trial and her case later became the inspiration for the musical Chicago.

R&B singer R. Kelly was found not guilty when a jury in Chicago acquitted him on 21 counts of charges related to child pornography after police arrested and accused him of videotaping sexual acts with one girl, who would have been 15 at the time. The singer posted $750,000 bail and continued his award-winning career while awaiting trial, which would take place six years later. For reasons jurors later said related to the refusal of the alleged victim to testify and an inability to prove she was a minor, they found him not guilty on all charges.

After a highly publicized 252 day trial in which former football star OJ Simpson was accused of killing his estranged wife and her friend, Simpson was found not guilty. While the prosecution presented a large and convincing body of evidence, which ranged from droplets of Simpson’s blood being found at the crime scene to a leather glove found outside Simpson’s home that had blood from the victims on it, Simpson’s team of lawyers called into question evidence gathering procedures, like delays in processing blood to determine DNA, and left the jury unconvinced that the state had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Simpson committed the homicides. Simpson was later found liable for the murders in a civil trial and fined.

Thirty year old single mother Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who disappeared at the age of two in July 2011. Anthony did not report her daughter missing and was accused of lying to investigators. In addition, investigators found evidence of human decomposition in her trunk, using a new type of forensic analysis that hadn’t been used before in a trial in the United States. The jury deliberated for over 10 hours before finding Anthony not guilty, with jurors later stating they were unable to convict Anthony of first degree murder because the prosecution couldn’t prove each element of the charges beyond reasonable doubt. Defense attorneys widely agreed the prosecution “over-charged” the case, leading to the acquittal.

If you or a loved one is under investigation or charged with a crime, you need an experienced, aggressive, and knowledgeable defense attorney. 

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