The rich and famous can buy anything their hearts desire–cars, nice homes, jewelry, expensive clothes, and much more. Whatever they want, they get in life because that’s a part of being famous. The exception to this is committing a heinous crime such as murder. When you’re guilty, money can’t buy innocence even if you’re one of the most recognizable figures in the world.
It’s no mystery that numerous professional athletes are getting into trouble with the law recently. However, the issues that are coming up have appeared in the past many times. Let’s take a look at some of the worst fatality cases involving an athlete:
10. Jayson Williams
Former NBA star Jayson Williams accidentally killed his limo driver, Costas “Gus” Christofi, with a shotgun in 2002. The man was shot while Jayson was giving a tour of his mansion in New Jersey, reported The New York Post. Apparently, Williams was holding a shot gun and it accidentally fired a round, killing Costas since he failed to check the gun’s safety mechanism before shutting it closed.
He was acquitted of more serious charges against him in 2004, but ended up being convicted on four counts of covering up the shooting. Williams plead guilty to aggravated assault in 2010, 8 years after the incident occurred. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 months. In 2012, the ex-NBA star was released from Rikers Island jail and found himself breaking the law again in 2013.
After pleading guilty in court in 2010, Williams turned to the victim’s sister and said, “There’s not a day I wake up that I don’t feel sorry for what I did to Mr. Christofi and that I put you through this.”
9. Ray Lewis
NFL superstar Ray Lewis flew to Atlanta to watch Super Bowl XXXIV and have a good time with friends. Things were going well until a fight broke out between him, his companions, and another group of people near the Cobalt Lounge. The altercation resulted in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis, then 24-years-old, was wearing a white suit which was never found. He was charged with murder and spent over two weeks in jail until his lawyer could get him out.
Soon into the trial, Ray’s legal team was able to negotiate a plea agreement with the District Attorney; part of it was having to betray his friends, Oakley and Sweeting, who were the ones thought to have badly stabbed the victims. Ray was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and given a $250,000 fine by the NFL. In June 2000, both Sweeting and Oakley were acquitted of the charges against them. Since the incident, Ray Lewis has achieved huge success in the NFL and continues to do well as a commentator for ESPN.
8. Bertil Fox
Former pro bodybuilder Bertil Fox was convicted of the double murders of his girlfriend, beauty queen Leyoca Browne and her mother, 36-year-old Violet, in 1998. They were both fatally shot by Bertil on the tiny Caribbean isle of St. Kitts. Bertil said the shootings were an accident as he struggled with Leyoca, but his best friend’s testimony said the opposite: “He said Leyoca’s mother was pushing him out the door. At that point he pulled out the gun and started shooting.” This meant Bertil didn’t shoot them out of self-defense as he suggested. At the first trial, the jury was split five to four, which meant Bertil would be a free man. However, he was retried after public outrage and sentenced to death by hanging. That was eventually changed to life in prison in 2002. Bertil continues to serve his time in a St. Kitts prison to this day without any chance of parole.
The former star who was known for his huge muscles weighed only 205 pounds and even lost the deepness in his voice after spending months in jail. He would do push-ups for his arms and lifts buckets of water for other parts of his body according to Sports Illustrated. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
7. Rae Carruth
Former NFL wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers Rae Carruth was connected with the death of his then-girlfriend, Cherica Adams. She was eight months pregnant and apparently the victim of a drive-by shooting. While on the brink of death, she managed to dial 911 and explained that Carruth had driven in front of her and stopped while another car came to a halt then started shooting. She was shot four times in the back and critically injured. Carruth immediately drove away from the scene as she bled in her vehicle from the wounds. Many believed Rae planned the murder because Cherica refused to get an abortion and he didn’t want the added expense of another child.
She ended up dying a month later, but the child was able to survive. While in the hospital, she managed to muster up enough energy to write detailed letters of what happened that night. The police ended up arresting Carruth for conspiring to commit first-degree murder, attempted murder, and shooting into an occupied vehicle. During the trial, ex-girlfriend Candace Smith testified that the former NFL star admitted to being involved in the shooting according to The New York Times.
He was ultimately convicted to 18-24 years in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. Carruth is expected to be released in 2018.
6. Mark Anthony “Gator” Rogowski
Mark Rogowski, former professional skateboarder, was convicted of raping, assaulting, and murdering his ex-girlfriend in 1992. After the end of Mark’s relationship with Jessica Bergsten, he became jealous and angry. He harassed her new boyfriend and stole gifts he once gave her by entering her home without permission. A police report was even filed as a result of his behavior against her boyfriend, but nothing happened.
A few years later, Bergsten called Rogowski and asked him to show her around San Diego after she moved to California. He agreed, and they ended up having wine and watching movies at his place. According to him, he hit her on the head with a metal club and then handcuffed her to his bed. After raping and killing her, he placed her body in a surfboard bag. Then, he drove to the Shell Canyon desert where he buried the corpse in a shallow grave.
Jessica was soon reported missing shortly after spending time with her famous ex boyfriend. It wasn’t long until Rogowski admitted to killing Jessica, telling his best friend: “Remember that girl from the poster? She was the one I killed.” He finally confessed, pleading guilty to first degree murder and rape. He received a 31-year prison sentence. After trying to ask for parole in 2011, he was denied because the district attorney felt he was a risk to society. One of his family members also said he should remain in jail. Rogowski will not be eligible for parole until 2018.
5. Bruno Souza
Bruno Fernandes, star Brazilian goalkeeper, confessed in 2013 to being involved in the kidnapping and murder of his former girlfriend, Eliza Samudio. In 2010, a judge ordered Bruno’s arrest after Eliza was found to be missing. One of his cousins told police that the former Flamengo captain was involved in her abduction. Also, investigators said he might have wanted her dead to avoid paying child support once she gave birth to his son. Her body was eventually found, cut up into pieces and apparently fed to dogs while other parts were buried under concrete. Last year The Associated Press reported that Bruno was found guilty and formally charged with murder, kidnapping, hiding a body, and more. He was sentenced to 22 years and 3 months in prison. However, he may be allowed to play professional soccer.
The laws in Brazil are much different than the United States and other parts of the world. No one in Brazil ever serves more than 30 years for a crime. According to New York Daily News, Bruno could be allowed minor freedom after 3 or 4 years if he’s been acting appropriately; that time is soon approaching. Montes Claros club president, Ville Mocellin, had the following to say about allowing him to sign a soccer contract while he’s technically still in jail: “For him, it is a chance to return to play. To the club, he is an athlete who can strengthen the team and a way to invest in the social side”. I guess if you’re a high performing athlete, you can plan a murder and still continue working.
4. Eric Naposki
Former NFL player Eric Naposki is currently in jail for life without the possibility of parole for killing healthcare entrepreneur Bill McLaughlin so that his girlfriend could collect $1 million dollars from his life insurance policy, according to The Associated Press. Eric shot him six times from close range causing his death in 1994. However, the case went unsolved until it was reopened in 2009, and Eric was finally convicted of murder in 2012. It took over fifteen years to link him to the murder after new technology was able to identify the weapon, plus a new witness came forward who helped prosecutors in the case.
Both Eric and Nanette Packard, the woman who plotted to have her wealthy boyfriend killed with the ex-athlete, were sentenced to life in jail. If it wasn’t for the work of lead investigator Larry Montgomery–who took on the cold case–these two individuals would have never been caught.
3. Aaron Hernandez
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez is going on trial for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd in less than a month. However, the case that’s even more controversial involves Aaron allegedly being at fault for murdering two people in 2012. Hernandez is accused of attacking Daniel Abreu and Satiro Furtado after one of them allegedly spilled a drink on him and didn’t apologize. Later in the evening, when Daniel and Safiro were at a red light, an SUV pulled up next to them where Hernandez shot at them.
A district attorney from the case said to CNN, “Mr. Abreu and Mr. Furtado were ambushed and executed as they drove home. Aaron Hernandez is the principal, the shooter, and the person responsible for taking the lives of the two victims.” Hernandez allegedly admitted to firing the gun after yelling a racial slur at the two victims. He was indicted in that shooting, and the trial is set to start in the middle of 2015.
For both cases, the former football player would have to serve major prison time if found guilty. His fate won’t be known for a while, but there’s a lot of evidence against him in both. The verdict will be in the hands of two juries. Aaron is apparently having money problems after being dropped from the NFL, Patriots, and sponsors.
2. OJ Simpson
Retired NFL football player O.J. Simpson was the main suspect for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, his wife, and Ronald Goldman. In 1994, both victims were found dead outside Nicole’s condo in Los Angeles. She was stabbed numerous times in such a vicious manner that parts of her neck were exposed from the deep wounds. Police found evidence at the crime scene that made police suspect O.J.’s involvement. He was convicted after trying to flee from the police in his white Bronco for the double homicide. The criminal trial–People vs. Simpson–is thought to be one of the most publicized criminal trials in American history. O.J. was acquitted of the murder charge after millions of people watched and discussed the case throughout the world. Several years later, he was ordered to pay over $33 million after a civil court awarded a judgement to the two families of the victims.
Years later, O.J. found himself in more trouble with the law. He was arrested and charged with a handful of felonies in 2007: kidnapping, armed robbery, and more. He was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 33 years in prison. He must serve nine of those without parole. He announced this year that he’s planning to convert to Islam.
1. Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius made history when he became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics in 2012. In 2013, Oscar murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by killing her with a shot gun in his home. He told the police that he killed her, but that he thought she was an intruder. Oscar shot four times at a locked bathroom door, apparently not knowing Reeva was inside. She died from the wounds. The award winning athlete was eventually indicted on charges of murder as well as several gun-related charges in South Africa. The trial began in the High Court of South Africa several months ago and came to a semi-conclusion last week: Oscar was not guilty of murder. However, he was found guilty of the culpable homicide of Reeva and reckless endangerment with a firearm.
Sentencing will take place in less than a month. Oscar returned to ‘low-key’ training this past summer, weeks before he was due back in court for the murder trial. As a result of the controversial murder trial, Nike and Oakley cut ties with him. Other sponsors either took his image off their site, advertisements, or cancelled its contract with him. It has also been reported that he suffers from depression, anxiety, and may even be suicidal.
June, Reeva’s mother, told NBC News: “He’s still living and breathing, you know, and she’s gone forever. I just don’t feel that this is the right sentence.” There’s a good chance that Oscar could only get community service and not have to serve any jail time. Next month, he will know his fate when sentencing takes place.