Chronology of a Murder
The jury chosen for Sam Sheppard's murder
trial in 1954.
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
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."
October 28, 1954
On the first day of Sheppard's trial, the jury, followed by a horde of
reporters, paid a visit to his home.
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
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.
Sam Sheppard during his trial.
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
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
Continue: December 21, 1954
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