CLEVELAND: A half-century worth of files from Dr. Sam Sheppard’s celebrated murder case are about to be made public.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason decided to donate the case files and exhibits to Cleveland State University’s law school, which plans on making the collection open to researchers and the general public once everything is cataloged and digitized.
Sheppard spent 10 years in jail until his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court after it ruled in 1964 that the original trial judge failed to shield jurors and witnesses from news stories in the case that captivated the public.
The grisly bludgeoning of Marilyn Sheppard in the bedroom of her lakeside home in Bay Village on July 4, 1954, shook the public’s security. The trial of her husband captivated the public and created a firestorm among the media.
Sheppard was acquitted at a retrial in 1966 and died four years later. He always denied killing his wife and blamed an intruder.
The case is considered an inspiration for the TV series The Fugitive, although the show’s creator has denied that.
Sheppard’s son, Sam Reese Sheppard, and the family’s estate filed suit against Ohio for wrongful imprisonment.
But the Ohio Supreme Court in 2002 refused to review a lower court’s decision that said Sheppard’s estate cannot sue the state, effectively putting an end to the celebrated murder case.
The exhibits given to Cleveland State include photographs, recordings and exhibits, the Plain Dealer reported. The school plans to create a website and is considering a traveling exhibition, said school spokesman Joe Mosbrook.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office amassed the evidence from the prior two criminal trials for the wrongful imprisonment lawsuit. Mason was a lead attorney on the wrongful imprisonment trial in 2000.
“It was a rare opportunity to forever preserve an important piece of legal history and show how the advancements in forensic evidence play such an important role in our criminal justice system,” Mason said in a new release Friday.