The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals

While few not guilty verdicts will be remembered more than the one issued in the OJ Simpson murder trial, the most surprising acquittals include celebrities, mothers, athletes, singers, and disgruntled housewives who have escaped charges when nearly everyone thought they were undeniably guilty. From the child molestation charges against Michael Jackson to the child murder claims against Casey Anthony, to the infamous case against Lorena Bobbitt, each of these cases, many among the most famous trials, provide plenty of shock and awe, not to mention media coverage, as they played out.

Though these famous Black criminals, white criminals, and others have escaped their charges in these famous criminal acquittals, an equally notable number have been found guilty, such as the top 8 professional athletes convicted of murder and the many rappers who've spent time in prison for one reason or another.

Take a look at this list of people acquitted of murder, and other crimes, and vote up the most shocking acquittal of them all, in these cases where people "got away with it."

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  • 1
    1,491 VOTES
    Casey Anthony
    Photo: Orange County Sheriff's Office / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Described as "OJ number two," the trial of Casey Anthony shocked and divided the United States when the Florida single mother was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony in July 2011. Casey Anthony failed to report the child missing, lied to investigators, and was seemingly unbothered during the months the child was missing. Despite evidence that Anthony's trunk contained human decomposition, Anthony was found not guilty for the murder, only convicted of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

    • Age: 36
  • 2
    1,280 VOTES

    Accused of murdering his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, former NFL player OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder in the "Trial of the Century" in 1995. Simpson was widely believed to be guilty, especially after leading police on a low-speed chase in his white Ford Bronco, but his dream team of attorneys, including Robert Kardashian and Robert Shapiro, convinced the jury that the evidence to convict the athlete and actor was insufficient. In 1997, Simpson was found financially liable for the deaths in a civil trial. 10 years later, Simpson released a controversial and allegedly hypothetical book titled If I Did It.

    • Age: 75
    • Birthplace: California, United States of America
  • 3
    861 VOTES
    R. Kelly
    Photo: Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com

    Right at the height of his career in 2002, R&B singer R. Kelly was charged with having sex with a minor and producing child pornography after a videotape surfaced of the singer having sexual relations with an underage girl. Other media, including photos of the acts with the minor, were found at Kelly's home. However, six years later when the case finally went to trial, the Grammy Award winner was found not guilty by a Chicago jury who cited a lack of evidence and the refusal of the alleged victim to testify as reasons for the acquittal. 

    However, in 2022, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges. Later that same year, he was also convicted of federal child pornography and exploitation charges, for which he faces a sentence of ten to 90 years in prison.

    • Age: 56
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
  • 4
    555 VOTES

    Charged with conspiracy to murder his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley, "Baretta" actor Robert Blake claimed that he had nothing to do with the 2001 shooting death of Bakley and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Though alleged hitman Ronald Hambleton testified that Blake attempted to hire him to kill Bakley, Blake was later acquitted of murder and solicitation of murder. Similar to the OJ Simpson trial, Blake was later sued in a civil court for the murder, by Bakley's three children, and found financially liable for the death.

    • Age: 89
    • Birthplace: Nutley, New Jersey, USA
  • 5
    652 VOTES
    Oscar Pistorius
    Photo: Trevor Christopher / Shutterstock.com

    After a marathon trial filled with vomit, screams and tears, South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius was cleared of all murder charges for the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Since his trial opened in March of 2014, Pistorius, a double amputee popularly known as the "blade runner," has faced accusations that he deliberately took the life of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, when he fired into a locked bathroom door at his villa in Pretoria, the South African capital, on Feb. 14, 2013. Mr. Pistorius insisted that he killed Ms. Steenkamp, who was in the bathroom by mistake, believing that an intruder had entered his home. Judge Masipa declared that Pistorius was not guilty of premeditated murder. However, Pistorius was later found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to six years in prison. In 2014, his conviction was upgraded to murder on appeal.  In 2017, on appeal by the state for a longer prison sentence, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a new sentence of 13 years and five months. He has been in prison outside the capital Pretoria.

     

    • Age: 36
    • Birthplace: Sandton, South Africa
  • 6
    816 VOTES

    Los Angeles Police Department

    Bringing the term "police brutality" into our vocabulary, four members of the Los Angeles Police Department were charged with using excessive force back in March 1991. Following a high-speed chase, Rodney King was beaten excessively by the Los Angeles officers all while a bystander videotaped the incident. Each of the officers were acquitted of charges in a 1992 trial, leading to rioting and looting in Los Angeles for over three days in disgust of the verdict.