On May 4, 2001, actor Robert Blake’s wife Bonnie Lee Bakley was shot and killed while sitting in a car outside a Studio City, California restaurant.
Blake claimed to be inside the restaurant at the time, retrieving a gun that he’d left at his table.
Almost a year later, Blake was arrested and charged with murder, but despite the testimony of two men who claimed that he tried to recruit them to kill Bakley, Blake was found not guilty by the jury. However, when Bakley’s three children filed a civil suit against Blake in 2005, he was found liable for the wrongful death of his wife and was ordered to pay them $30 million.
In April 2008, an appeals court upheld the civil case verdict but cut Blake’s penalty in half.
On August 5, 1987, actor Matthew Broderick was driving on a country road in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland with then-girlfriend (and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-star) Jennifer Grey when his car veered into the wrong lane, colliding with an oncoming vehicle.
The two passengers of the other car — 30-year-old Anna Gallagher and her 63-year-old mother Margaret Doherty — were killed instantly. Broderick spent a month in the hospital but because of memory loss, he was unable to explain what happened.
It was determined that the actor wasn’t drunk at the time of the accident, and he was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, although he was eventually convicted only of careless driving, escaping with a $175 fine.
Initially upset at the ruling, the victims’ family has since come to terms with it and met with Brodderick in 2003 to gain a sense of closure.
Although Cruz wasn’t using the crosswalk, the cars in front of Gayheart had stopped to allow him to cross the street. However, the actress, not seeing the boy, veered around the cars in an effort to avoid stopping and struck Cruz in the left-turn lane.
Gayheart was also talking on a cell phone at the time. She pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years’ probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine and 750 hours of community service.
A civil lawsuit from the Cruz family was settled out of court.
On July 11, 1936, eccentric billionaire-to-be Howard Hughes — then a successful movie producer — struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel Meyer at an intersection in Los Angeles.
Although Hughes had been drinking earlier that evening, he wasn’t reported to be drunk at the time and claimed that the man stepped in front of his car.
While a witness initially refuted that story, the witness eventually corroborated Hughes’ version of things (some claim he was bribed), and negligent homicide charges were dropped.
Nevertheless, Hughes paid the Meyer family $20,000 “in this their time of need.”
Flamboyant future boxing promoter Don King killed not one, but two men early in his life while running an illegal gambling operation in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1954, at the age of 23, he shot and killed a man named Hillary Brown, a death that was ruled justifiable because Brown was trying to rob one of King’s gambling stations.
Later, in 1966, he was involved in a fight with an employee of his named Sam Garrett, whom King claimed owed him money. During the scuffle, Garrett’s head hit the pavement — although some say King repeatedly stomped him to death.
He was convicted of manslaughter and spent four years in jail before being paroled in 1971, at which point he moved from gambling to boxing. King was eventually granted a full pardon by Ohio Governor James Rhodes in 1983.