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Jury The jury chosen for Sam Sheppard's murder trial in 1954.
Chronology of a Murder
Part 3 | Back to Part 2

October 9, 1954
Editorial criticizes defense counsel's poll of the public to show local bias for a change of venue motion, saying it "smacks of mass jury tampering."


October 18, 1954
Selection of jury for Dr. Sheppard's trial begins. Courtroom is outfitted with a long table in front of the bar, three feet from jurors, for seating of 20 press representatives. Three of four rows of benches are assigned to press. All New York news media, Chicago media, press syndicates have representatives, including "star" reporters such as Dorothy Kilgallen. Representatives of news media use all rooms on courtroom floor, with private telephones and telegraphic equipment installed. Radio station sets up broadcasting facilities on another floor, next to the jury room.


October 19, 1954
Radio debate broadcast live in which reporters accuse Dr. Sheppard of trying to block prosecution and assert that he conceded his guilt by hiring a prominent criminal lawyer. Continuance of the trial is denied.


October 23, 1954
Front-page, two-inch headline: "But Who Will Speak for Marilyn?" calling for "Justice to Sam Sheppard."


Exterior of house On the first day of Sheppard's trial, the jury, followed by a horde of reporters, paid a visit to his home.

October 28, 1954
Jury sworn in.

First day of trial, massive coverage of jurors' visit to Sheppard home; a reporter travels with the jury.


October - December 1954
Jurors are not sequestered during trial; have their names and photos in the papers over 40 times; and are not queried about media accounts they have heard.

Police, prosecutors, witnesses, judge, juror families give interviews and appear on camera. Trial transcript made available and reported daily.


November 21, 1954
Radio broadcast calls Dr. Sheppard a perjurer, comparing him to Alger Hiss. Judge refuses to question jury about whether members heard it.


November 24, 1954
Eight-column headline: "Sam Called a 'Jekyll-Hyde' by Marilyn, Cousin to Testify"; no such testimony is presented.



Sheppard Sam Sheppard during his trial.
November 1954
National broadcaster Walter Winchell reports that woman under arrest in New York was Dr. Sheppard's mistress and had had an illegitimate child by him. Two jurors admit having heard the broadcast; judge takes no action. The report is false.


December 9, 1954
Police issue a press statement calling Dr. Sheppard a "Bare-faced Liar."


December 16, 1954
Testimony ends. Prosecution seeks guilt on first-degree murder with the penalty of death in the electric chair.


December 17 - 21, 1954
Jury deliberates. Jury is sequestered for the first time, but there are no female bailiffs to caretake the five women. Jurors are permitted to make unmonitored telephone calls home at night. Chaos outside and around the jury room prevails.


Continue: December 21, 1954



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