Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder

By Jack P. Desario; William D. Mason | Go to book overview

Three

Did Sam Murder Marilyn?

Unless a felony is committed in the presence of a police officer, the burden of arresting and indicting a suspect rests with the prosecutor. But what should the prosecutor do in this case? The realities of the case were that no one had confessed to the murder and that there was just one witness, Sam Sheppard, who saw only “a form.” But the investigation had to implicatesomeone. Avital, thirty-one-year-old, pregnant woman had been brutally murdered while her seven-year-old son slept in the room next door. Justice must be served. The public clamored for an arrest.

Mason wondered how he would have acted had he been the prosecutor in 1954. Several suspicious items jumped out of the case file, and he found much of Sheppard's account highly irregular. In his scrutiny of the case file, he listed the inconsistencies and issues that were most incriminating.

Where was Sheppard's white t-shirt? How could Sheppard not know where it was? Would the murderer have torn it off as Sam lay unconscious and then carry it away with him? Or was it so blood soaked that Sam had to conceal it?

Where was Koko, the family dog, during these brutal struggles? Why wasn't the dog in a frenzy and barking wildly during the murder and while Sam was struggling with the intruder?

How could Sheppard's watch have blood spatter on it? This type of pattern only occurs if the watch is within a few feet of flying blood. Sam explained this by claiming that when he regained consciousness in the bedroom, he examined his blood-soaked wife. But if he'd done this, why didn't he have any blood on his hands, wrists, or clothes? Sam also stated that he never washed any blood off himself.

Why would Sam's account of what happened that night change as he was presented with new evidence? Originally, Sam said he heard screams and ran up the stairs, where something, or someone, clobbered him. The

-38-

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Dr. Sam Sheppard on Trial: The Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Dr. Sam Sheppard the Prosecutors and the Marilyn Sheppard Murder on Trial *
  • Contents *
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Prologue 1
  • One - The New Prosecutor Faces an Old Controversy 5
  • Two - An Unlikely Setting for Murder 13
  • Three - Did Sam Murder Marilyn? 38
  • Four - Putting Together the Pieces of the Puzzle 57
  • Five - Final Trial Preparation: the Emergence of the Prosecutor's Strategy 71
  • Six - Opening Statements: Setting the Stage 80
  • Seven - The Sheppard Team Presents Its Case 99
  • Eight - Science and Suspects: the Plaintiff and Efforts to Raise Reasonable Doubt 142
  • Nine - The Prosecutor Speaks 200
  • Ten - Dr. Sam Sheppard— Portrait of a Murderer? 232
  • Eleven - Closing Arguments and a Verdict: the End of a Legal Era 309
  • Appendix A 328
  • Appendix B 336
  • Appendix C 340
  • Appendix D 342
  • Appendix E 354
  • Appendix F 360
  • Appendix G 363
  • Appendix H *
  • Appendix I *
  • Appendix J 373
  • Appendix K 377
  • Index 380
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