Unspeakable Times

The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals 

Alby Thompson
Updated March 11, 2020 5.3k votes 1.4k voters 322.5k views 11 items

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 dead guilty. From the child molestation charges against Michael Jackson to the child murder claims against Casey Anthony, to the infamous case against penis-chopper 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."

Casey Anthony is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals
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: 32

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O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals
Photo: Los Angeles Police Department/Public Domain
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: 68

Birthplace: California, United States of America

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R. Kelly is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals
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.

Age: 52

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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Oscar Pistorius is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Most Surprising Acquittals
Photo: Trevor Christopher/Shutterstock.com

9/11/2014-- 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. The court has not yet announced if he will be charged for the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. 

Since his trial opened in March of 2014, Pistorius, 27, 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 has insisted that he killed Ms. Steenkamp, who was in the bathroom, by mistake, believing that an intruder had entered his home.


Age: 32

Birthplace: Sandton, South Africa

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