11. ROBERT BLAKE: FAMILY TIES
It is 2002 when con-artist wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, of TV actor Robert Blake is found shot to death in a parked car just a block away from the Italian restaurant in Los Angeles where the unhappy couple had just eaten dinner. We say con-artist and unhappy because Blake claimed he had been tricked into marrying Bakely after discovering she was pregnant with his child. Fortunately for the New Jersey actor, the aftermath of the murder played out just like an episode of The Sopranos, where they do get away with murder, well sort of.
Blake pleaded not guilty during his trial. His alibi, he was inside the restaurant retrieving a handgun he had forgotten when the shooting happened. His reason for carrying a handgun? His wife feared someone was stalking her. He wanted to protect her. Blake was charged with one count of murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait and two counts of solicitation of murder in the shooting death of Bonny Lee Bakley. However, after a lengthy four-year trial, a California jury acquitted him of the murder. Was it a classic case of bribery? Surely Blake had ties with mafia family members with his New Jersey roots.
10. SHRIEN DEWANI: MILLIONAIRE MURDERER
Widespread media coverage of the Shrien Dewani case quickly turned one man into a celebrity. London millionaire, Shrien Dewani, wed his Swedish bride, Anni, in 2010. The couple shared a fairy tale wedding then headed to South Africa for their honeymoon. While honeymooning near Cape Town, the couple were kidnapped at gunpoint. Mr. Dewani was released unharmed just hours after the kidnap, his wife was not. The next day, her body was found in the very taxi the couple had been kidnapped in. She had been shot in the neck.
Initially Zola Tonga and Mzwamadoda Qwabe were arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Anni Dewani. However, upon arrest, one of them revealed some shocking information. Zola Tonga confessed that the wealthy businessman had paid him 15,000 rand (£1,400) to murder his wife. Shrien Dewani was arrested on December 8th and a long legal battle ensued. Almost four years later on October 6th, 2014, Dewani was extradited to South Africa. This time he would not be in South Africa for pleasure, but to stand trial for the murder Anni. Despite damning evidence including CCTV footage of Shrien Dewani meeting Zola Tonga, the man who made the murder possible, the trial was thrown out by the judge, Judge Jeanette Traverso. Dewani walked free. Judge Jeanette Traverso claimed the prosecution’s evidence fell “far below the threshold.” It was a day the justice system not only failed the family of Anni, but the public that had been following the case for the past four years.