Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case (1975)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama  |   Run Time - 147 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Long before Dr. Richard Kimble's one-armed man, there was Dr. Sam Sheppard's "curly-headed man." On July 4, 1954, Dr. Sheppard's wife was found murdered in their Cleveland home. Sheppard, the prime suspect, insisted that he'd seen a man with curly hair fleeing from his home. No matter: he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His road to salvation was paved by columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who revealed that the presiding judge was convinced of Sheppard's guilt before the trial even started. Further revelations proved that Sheppard's trial was, in the words of one Federal Court, a "mockery of justice." After 10 years, thanks to the efforts of attorney F. Lee Bailey, an embittered Sheppard was set free. But Sheppard, who'd had a reputation as a "short fuse" even before his wife was killed, was unable to adjust to freedom, nor was his reputation restored in the eyes of those who still believed him guilty. After a disastrous second marriage, Sheppard tried to eke out a living as a professional wrestler. He died in 1970 at the age of 46. The 150-minute TV movie Guilty or Innocent: The Sam Sheppard Murder Case does not presume to decide the guilt or innocence of Sheppard; rather, it traces the disintegration of an already troubled man, as well as his infamous "trial by publicity". George Peppard stars as Sam Sheppard, while Walter McGinn plays F. Lee Bailey and Nina VanPallandt is seen as Sheppard's second wife Ilse Brandt. Guilty or Innocent originally aired on November 17, 1975.



conviction, courtroom, death-penalty, defense [military], guilt, investigation, investigator, journalism, justice, killing, lawyer, murder, prejudice, publicity, reputation, retrial, spouse, surgery, trial [courtroom], wrestling-Greco-Roman, film, wife