It is no secret that celebrities often get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the crimes they have committed. From driving under the influence to assault, most of them manage to slip through the cracks with a small fine and no other consequences. Let’s see how many celebrities have actually caused someone’s death and have received a mere slap on the wrist.
Donald “The Stomper” King
American boxing promoter Donald King is known not only for his work promoting boxing matches such as “The Rumble in the Jungle” or “Thrilla in Manila,” but for his charges of slaying two separate people in incidents that were 13 years apart from each other. In 1954, King fatally shot a man who was trying to steal from his gambling house which was written off as justifiable homicide. Thirteen years later, in 1967, he was convicted of non-negligent manslaughter when he stomped one of his employees to death over $600. He then served three years and 11 months in prison and was later pardoned in 1983.
Rebecca Gayheart Accepts Responsibility
In 2001, actress and model Rebecca Gayheart struck and killed a nine-year old boy with her car as he was crossing the street in Los Angeles. The boy died from his injuries early the next day. In court, Gayheart pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years of probation, a fine of $2,800, a year without her license, and 750 hours of community service. The family of the boy also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit blaming her negligence for their son’s death. Aside from her guilt, her punishment seems relatively light even though it was an accident.
Brandy Norwood’s Incident On The 405
In 2006, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress Brandy Norwood was involved in a deadly car collision on the Los Angeles 405 Freeway. She crashed into 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj who passed away from her injuries the following day. However, Norwood wasn’t arrested or charged with vehicular manslaughter due to a lack of evidence even though she had slight traces of marijuana in her toxicology report. Although she got off scotch-free from a legal standpoint, she underwent numerous lawsuits including a $50 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit from Aboudihaj’s parents.
Matthew Broderick Gets Away With It Just Like Ferris Bueller
Matthew Broderick, most commonly known for his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was on vacation in Ireland with actress Jennifer Grey when Broderick crossed into the wrong lane and was in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Both the driver Anna Gallagher, and her mother, Margaret Dorothy were killed instantly. Broderick was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and was facing up to five years in prison. Yet, he was later convicted of a lesser charge of careless driving and had to pay a minuscule fine of $175.
Ted Kennedy Flees The Scene
In 1969, Ted Kennedy was driving Mary Jo Kopechne home from a party he was hosting in Martha’s Vineyard. He lost control of the vehicle on Dike Bridge and the car crashed into the Pucha Pond Inlet. Kennedy was able to make it out of the car, yet Mary Jo Kopechne was not and died inside of the vehicle. Kennedy swam to shore and fled the scene, notifying the authorities the next morning, yet the body had already been found. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the accident and was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended. Once the smoke cleared, later that month, he announced that he would remain in the senate and run for re-election the next year.
Oscar Pistorius, An Honest Mistake?
Oscar Pistorius is a four-time Paralympics gold medal runner and double amputee. In February 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, the South African model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home. He admits to shooting and killing Steenkamp, however, he claims that he mistook her for an intruder. At his trial, he was found guilty of culpable homicide and received a five-year prison sentence and another three-year suspended prison sentence for a reckless endangerment conviction. After prosecutors applied for permission to appeal the culpable homicide verdict, Pistorius was sentenced to a six-year sentence for the killing.
Laura Bush’s Fatal Accident
Back when our former First Lady was in high school, she accidentally killed one her classmates in a car crash when leaving a party. Apparently, she ran a stop sign and crashed into her 17-year-old classmate Michael Douglas who died on site. However, Bush does not attempt to cover up this accident or her remorse, even though there are suspicions that drunk driving may have been involved, or that the collision could have been a criminally negligent incident. In the end, no charges were filed and the incident has essentially been forgotten.
Vince Neil: When Partying Goes Too Far
Singer of the famous rock band Motley Crue, Vince Neil sure knows how to party and have a good time. However, in 1984, the partying got the best of him when he was in a deadly car accident after extensively partying. The accident ended up killing the passenger Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley in his car and caused brain damage to two of the passengers in the other car. Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence with a 0.17 B.A.C. In 1986, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, five years probation. He also paid $2.6 million in restitution to the victims and had to complete 200 community service hours. He got out of jail in 15 days for good behavior.
Sid (The) Vicious
Sid Vicious was the bass player for the English punk rock band Sex Pistols. Sid’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen, pictured above was found stabbed to death in the bathroom that her and Sid were staying in. The murder weapon used to kill Nancy belonged to Sid and he admitted to them having an argument the night before which he hardly remembers due to his drug intake that night. At first, he said he remembered stabbing her with no intention to kill her and that she fell on the knife, but then later said he had no recollection of the incident. It seemed conclusive that it was Sid who committed the murder but he died of a heroin overdose before the trial took place.
Apparently, iconic rapper Snoop Dogg wasn’t always the happy-go-lucky pot smoking jokester we know him as now. In 1993, Snoop was arrested and put on trial for his connection with the death of a rival gang member named Philip Woldermariam. Snoop Dogg was driving the car when his bodyguard McKinley Lee shot and killed Woldermariam. However, thanks to the work of their lawyers, the charges were dropped and the shooting was deemed as self-defense. Snoop avoided prison and was able to smoke and make music in peace.
Donte’ Stallworth’s Error In Judgment
Stallsworth is a past NFL wide receiver who played for a variety of NFL teams throughout his athletic career. In 2001, he was charged with DUI manslaughter when he hit and killed a pedestrian in Miami Beach, Florida. He was released on a $200,000 bail and given a 30-day sentence in county jail, yet was released after only 24. He was also sentenced 1,000 hours of community service, two years of community control, and eight years probation. He also had a lifetime suspended Florida drivers license and reached a financial agreement with the family of the pedestrian he killed so there was no civil lawsuit necessary.
Jayson Williams’ Misfire
In 2002, former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams was giving a tour of his house to his personal driver Costas “Gus” Christofi after a night out. During the tour Williams was flashing off his shotgun and ended up accidentally shooting and killing Christofi. Williams went on to try and hide the unintentional murder, asking those present to lie for him and cover it up. In 2004, he was convicted on four counts of trying to cover up the shooting and in 2010, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was sentenced to five years in prison with potential for parole in 18 months. He was eventually released April 13, 2012. After a recent bout with alcoholism, he is back on the wagon, determined to be the best person he can be.
Michael Massee’s Prop Malfunction
Michael Massee was a villain character actor with almost 80 different appearances in both movies and television shows. In a freak accident on the set of the movie The Crow in 1993, Massee shot and killed Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee from an improperly prepared prop gun. Lee died in surgery at the age of 28. The shooting was labeled as an accident and led to no legal repercussions. After the incident, Massee took a year off of acting and refused to ever watch the film. To this day, he still notes having nightmares from the incident.
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was a popular silent film actor, comedian, director, and screenwriter in the early 20th century. His legacy has not withstood the test of time only for his work in the film industry, but also for supposedly raping and beating a young film actress and model named Virginia Rappe who died only days after the reported assault. Arbuckle underwent three manslaughter trials yet in the end was not only found not guilty, but received an apology from the jury. Although he was found not guilty, his career suffered greatly.
Keith Moon’s Deadly Getaway
Keith Moon, the world renowned drummer from the classic rock band The Who, accidentally killed his friend and bodyguard Neil Boland with his car outside of a bar in January, 1970. Moon says that he was trying to escape other individuals at the pub that were assaulting him and as he was speeding out of the parking lot failed to see Boland. Moon was charged with driving without a license, insurance, and under the influence. Boland’s death was written off as an accident, yet Moon pleaded guilty to the driving charges.
Caitlyn Jenner’s Unfortunate Incident
In 2015, reality show star, and ex-Olympian Bruce Jenner, who now identifies as Caitlyn Jenner, was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in her SUV when she rear ended a Lexus pushing it into oncoming traffic. The Lexus was then hit head-on by a Hummer, and the driver of the Lexus Kim Howe died on the scene. Although shaken, and full of sorrow, Jenner walked away unharmed, and not charged for the accident or the death of Howe.
William S. Burroughs’ Target Practice Gone Wrong
William S. Burroughs is known for his novels and large participation in the Beat Movement during the 1950s. While drunk in Mexico, he accidentally shot his wife in the skull and killed her when playing a game of William Tell. Instead of placing an apple on her head, he used a pint glass in which Burroughs missed and hit her in the skull. He was held in custody for a few weeks until he was bailed out and returned to his brother. Eventually Burroughs was convicted on manslaughter and received a two-year suspended sentence.
John Landis And The Twilight Zone Tragedy
On the set of The Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1987, a Bell UH-1 helicopter crashed onto the set killing three individuals on the ground under Landis’ supervision. Actor Vic Morrow, and two children named Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen were brutally killed by the crash. Landis violated California’s labor laws hiring the two Chinese children without permits. After an in-depth investigation and trials, Landis as well as three other filmmakers were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and paid all of the families $2 million in settlements. This incident also led to a re-evaluation of many film-making processes as well as a look into the risks taken in the making of some films.
Gucci Mane Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is
Popular gangster rapper Radric Delantic Davis, or Gucci Mane as he is commonly known was involved in a deadly shooting May 10, 2005. He was attacked by a group of men at a house in Georgia in which him and his associates shot at the group, killing Pookie Loc, whose body was found in a nearby schoolyard. Gucci turned himself in May 18, 2005 where he was charged for murder but claimed that he shot at the group out of self-defense. The DeKlab County districts attorney’s office dropped the murder charge in 2006 due to a lack of evidence.
“Forgetful” Robert Blake
In 2001, Actor Robert Blake was having dinner with his wife Bonnie Lee Bakely at one of their favorite Italian restaurants. Blake supposedly parked a few blocks away from the restaurant in a dark area next to a dumpster. Upon leaving the restaurant, he claims to have left the handgun he was carrying back at the restaurant. When he returned to the car he said he found his wife shot in the head. Robert Blake hired Thomas Mesereau as an attorney who managed to twist the story and perplex the jury, letting Blake walk away free.