Because celebrities are often in the spotlight, we tend to forget that they’re human like the rest of us. This makes them equally susceptible to the emotions and mental struggles that can lead to committing crimes, even murder. While their status may make them think they’re above the law and the consequences of their actions, this is often not the case. But sometimes they do manage to slip through the fingers of the justice system. Read on to find out which 10 celebrities have blood on their hands, and what price they’ve paid for their crimes, if any.
10. Jayson Williams
Former NBA player (Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets) Jayson Williams fatally shot Costas “Gus” Christofi on the night of February 14, 2002. Williams had hired limo driver Christofi to transport him and a group of friends to dinner after a sporting event in Philadelphia. After dinner the group went back to Williams’ home, where he showed them his gun collection. While holding a 12-gauge shotgun, Williams failed to check the safety and the gun accidentally discharged, killing Christofi. In February of 2010, Williams was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime.
9. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg, one of the best-known rappers of all time, has had his fair share of troubles with the law. In 1993, Snoop Dogg (whose real name is Calvin Broadus) and his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, were charged with murdering a rival gang member, Phillip Woldermarian. While driving through a Los Angeles neighbourhood, Snoop Dogg, who was behind the wheel, and Lee, who was in the passenger seat, began engaging a group of young men in an aggressive conversation. When things got heated, Woldermarian pulled out a gun, prompting Lee to shoot and kill him. The trial lasted three years, with Snoop Dogg and Lee being represented by Johnnie Cochran (the lead lawyer from O.J. Simpson’s defense team), both of whom were eventually found not guilty of all charges.
8. O.J. Simpson
Although he was found not guilty of the crimes, it is widely believed that O.J. Simpson committed the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman on June 12, 1994. O.J., who was a famous football player and actor, was believed to have stabbed ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman to death outside of her Los Angeles home. While he agreed to turn himself in on June 17, 1994, O.J. instead tried to flee the police in his white Ford Bronco on the California freeway. The chase was broadcast live on television, with O.J. eventually surrendering to law enforcement officials. His trial became known as “The Trial of the Century,” where his exceptionally strong legal team accused the police of planting evidence in an effort to set up their client. On October 3, 1995, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder.
7. Phil Spector
Phil Spector is an American songwriter and record producer who developed the “Wall of Sound” technique. He was was best known for his work with groups such as Ike and Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers and The Beatles, that is, until February 3, 2003, when he shot and killed actress Lana Clarkson in his Los Angeles home. Spector had a history of threatening people with guns, including John Lennon, Leonard Cohen and The Ramones. Compelling evidence led to his conviction on April 13, 2009. He is now serving a 19-year sentence.
6. Don King
Boxing promoter Don King has represented some of the most well known boxers in history, including Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. But he also has a history of slimy crimes and violence. On April 20, 1966, King ran into a former employee, Sam Garrett, in a bar and subsequently beat him to death over an owed $600 debt from a previous bet. He was charged with second-degree murder, but sentenced on a reduced manslaughter charge, serving a four-year sentence.
5. Michael Jace
Michael Jace, who is best known for his role as LAPD Officer Julien Lowe on The Shield, was charged with murdering his wife in their Los Angeles home on May 19, 2014, after he called the police and told them, “I shot my wife.” The incident was believed to be part of a domestic dispute. In a court appearance in August of 2014 he entered a not guilty plea to the murder charge. The trial date has yet to be set.
4. Johnny Lewis
Most recently starring in the hit TV show Sons of Anarchy, 28-year-old Johnny Lewis also had guest roles on 7th Heaven and Malcolm in the Middle, among many others, in his early career. But the young actor struggled with drugs and mental illness, and had many run-ins with police prior to September 26, 2012, when he killed his landlord Cathy Davis and her cat in their LA home. During the incident, Lewis climbed atop the house’s roof, accidentally slipping to his own death. It was believed that Lewis had been on narcotics such as “bath salts” or “Smiles,” however, the toxicology report later indicated that no drugs or alcohol had been in his system.
3. Jovan Belcher
In December of 2012, Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, fatally shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins in their home. Belcher’s mother, who was home at the time, heard the shots and ran to the scene to see Belcher kiss Perkins on the forehead and tell her he was sorry. Belcher then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility where he encountered several members of the team’s coaching staff, all of whom tried to dissuade him from taking his own life. But as the emergency vehicle sirens closed in on them, Belcher kneeled behind a car a fired a single bullet into his head.
2. Oscar Pistorius
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013, after shooting her through the bathroom door in his home, claiming he thought she was an intruder. The trial, which last more than six months, was closely watched by many around the world. On September 12, 2014, Pistorius was convicted of manslaughter. He was later sentenced to five years in prison for killing Ms. Steenkamp. Pistorius is expected to be released early from prison on August 21, 2015, after serving only 10 months of his sentence.
1. Aaron Hernandez
Formerly a tight end for the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez’s career came to an immediate halt when he was arrested for the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd in 2013. Hernandez shot Lloyd to death in an industrial area near his home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. The police linked Hernandez to the crime scene by his DNA and footprints. Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder on April 15, 2015, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Hernandez is also a suspect in a 2012 drive-by shooting that left two men dead, and will face another murder trial later this year.