A jury of their peers might have let them off. A judge may have given them short time. But the court of public opinion roundly convicted these women. We won’t take a position as to their guilt or innocence, but the following verdicts—spanning from the 1890s to Amanda Knox—sure caused a stir, and controversy will follow these ladies till their dying days.
1. Amanda Knox
A unanimous panel of judges and lay judges found Knox guilty of the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. On appeal, however, a higher court threw out the conviction. The prosecution can appeal this acquittal, with no word at press time on whether or not they plan to do so. The prosecution’s initial proposed motive—a ritualistic Satanic murder orgy—would be funny if the events weren’t so tragic.
People were so outraged over this verdict that overturning the protection against double jeopardy was the talk of the Internet for a whole two hours. While Anthony was convicted of lying to police, a jury let her off on the more serious charges of murder and aggravated child abuse. To be fair, going out and getting totally drunk every night does sound like a totally reasonable response to losing your kid.
3. Lizzie Borden
One of the earliest trials by media, Fall River, Massachusetts spinster Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother. This 1890s case formed the template for high-profile, media-driven murder cases. The identity of the actual murderer, whether it was Lizzie or someone else, is debated to this day.
4. Mary Winkler
Winkler never once denied shooting her husband—she didn’t remember pulling the trigger, stating euphemistically that “something went off”—and got 210 days for voluntary manslaughter, credited for five months, with the remaining 60 days served in a state mental health facility. The sentence was roundly denounced as misandrist. Her defense? Her husband made her wear “slutty clothes” during sex. Sounds like “Wednesday” to us.
5. Karla Homolka
Karla Homolka got manslaughter in a plea bargain deal. She helped her husband rape and murder two Ontario teen girls, as well as her own sister, Tammy Homolka. While 12 years isn’t usually what you think of as “getting away with it,” keep in mind that her husband got life. We wonder what he would have gotten had he agreed to testify against her.
6. Cheryl Crane
Chery Crane, daughter of old Hollywood icon Lana Turner, stabbed her mother’s boyfriend, known gangster Johnny Stompanato. The killing was found to be justifiable homicide. We can’t think of many better reasons to stab someone than that they’re beating your mom.
7. Laura Bush
In 1963, Laura Bush ran a stop sign and caused a car accident that killed Michael Dutton Douglas, a friend of hers. She was never charged in relation to the incident. Laura Bush is definitely not the member of the family we would think of as a vehicular manslaughter candidate.