Murder trials are always among the most fascinating and attention-getting, but even more so when it’s a celebrity that’s on the defense. There have been several notable cases in which the accused murderer was an A-list celebrity, but a few stand out as being the most-followed murder cases in history. Here are the five most notable cases of a celebrity being charged with murder, and how the courts decided their fate.
Snoop Dogg has had quite a few run-ins with the law, many of which have been drug-related. However, there’s a much more serious charge that Snoop has faced, and that’s murder. In the summer of 1993, a member of Snoop Dogg’s rival gang was killed in West Los Angeles just outside of the building that he was living in at the time.
Snoop and his bodyguard McKinley Lee were charged with the first-degree murder of Philip Woldermariam after the two had run from the scene. After several years in court, nobody was convicted of murder as the LAPD had reportedly fumbled the investigation with Snoop claiming that he never fired a shot and that it was his bodyguard acting in self-defense. All men were acquitted of murder charges in 1996.
Perhaps the most famous murder case of all time, NFL legend and actor O.J. Simpson was wanted for the stabbing deaths of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and family friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson led an infamous escape in a white Ford Bronco, and the subsequent murder trial was part of the national discussion for months.
Eventually, Simpson was acquitted of the murder, but was found guilty in a civil case where he had to pay over $33 million. Simpson was then arrested several years later in Nevada for robbery and was sentenced to nine years before being released in October 2017.
The lead singer of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, was in a very infamous relationship with Nancy Spungen during the 1970s. The two partied hard, and one night, it went too far. The couple was throwing a party in a hotel room in October 1978, with Sid reportedly sleeping through much of the night. The following morning, Spungen was found dead in the hotel room’s bathroom, with Sid claiming at first that he had stabbed her death before changing the story to say he doesn’t remember anything.
Sid Vicious was charged with murder and gave several different stories regarding what happened in the hotel that night. The singer was released on bail but got into trouble again when he assault Todd Smith just a couple of months later. While still awaiting trial, Vicious died from an overdose in February 1979 at the age of 21, leaving the death of Spungen a mystery.
The late Phil Spector was a record producer known for ushering in some of the greatest acts of the 1960s and 1970s, producing music all the way through the 2000s. At Spector’s house in February 2003, though, actress Lana Clarkson died in what Spector called an accidental suicide. He was arrested and charged with murder, with the trial going through several years of deliberation.
Spector was eventually convicted of murder in 2009 and was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. An appeal for Spector was entered, but he passed away in prison in January 2021 due to COVID-19, three years before he was set to be released on parole.
Robert Blake had a long career in Hollywood, starring in films including “In Cold Blood” and shows like “Baretta” after being a child star. Blake continued his career into the 1990s but retired toward the end of the decade. In 2001, Blake was married to Bonny Lee Bakley, with the couple tying the knot the year prior.
She was found dead on May 4, 2001, with a headshot wound outside of a restaurant behind a dumpster. After investigation, Blake was charged with murder the following April with the trial running all the way to March 2005. Blake was eventually acquitted, with the Los Angeles District Attorney calling the jury “stupid” after their decision. However, Blake was forced to pay $30 million in civil court for Bakley’s death, leading him to bankruptcy.