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Shocking Acquittals
O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony are two of the most shocking ‘not guilty’ verdicts in U.S. history, but there have been other high-profile acquittals that came as a surprise. For more, take a look at the LIFE.com gallery. 

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Click through to see other court cases in American history where the verdict was almost as shocking than the crime.

 

 

 

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John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr. is held down and two of his victims lie on the ground after he shoots President Ronald Reagan and three others in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981. Hinckley, who was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver and believed assassinating Reagan would impress actress Jodie Foster, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In response, some states abolished the insanity defense altogether. Hinckley has been a resident of a Washington, D.C., mental hospital ever since the verdict.

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OJ Simpson

O.J. Simpson tries on a leather glove allegedly used in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend during his murder trial on June 15, 1995 in Los Angeles in this photo. With a high-powered defense team and bumbling prosecutors and police investigators, the former football great won an acquittal for the murders, shocking the country and dividing white and black Americans. In 1997, Simpson was found liable for the murders in a civil case and ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages. Simpson finally went to prison in 2008, when he was found guilty and sentenced to 33 years for kidnapping and robbing a sports-memorabilia dealer in Las Vegas.

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Rodney King

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King (here at a 2002 charity function) was stopped by LAPD officers after a reportedly high-speed chase through Los Angeles. When King resisted arrest, four officers Tasered, kicked, and beat King with their batons, sending him to a hospital with a broken leg, a fractured face, and other injuries. In a 1992 jury trial, the four officers were found not guilty of using excessive force, a verdict that sparked several days of rioting throughout Los Angeles that killed 53 and caused nearly $1 billion in damage. The federal government then charged the four officers with violating King's civil rights, and the ensuing 1993 trial saw two officers acquitted and two found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

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Michael Jackson

The pop singer was accused of repeatedly molesting a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch. Former child star Macaulay Culkin testified on Jackson's behalf, and defense attorneys battered the credibility of the accuser's family and the prosecution's witnesses. Jackson was found not guilty on all charges. Here: Michael Jackson arrives for the verdict at his child-molestation trial at Santa Barbara County Courthouse on June 13, 2005.

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Imelda Marcos

On March 10, 2008, the spendthrift wife of ousted Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos was acquitted after a 17-year trial in which she was accused of embezzling $863 million from the Philippines and hiding it in Swiss bank accounts. On hearing the verdict, the 79-year-old said, "I thank the Lord to relieve me again of 32 cases that will subtract from the 901 that were filed against the Marcoses." Here: Imelda Marcos walks a free woman in 1990.

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R. Kelly

In 2002, singer and producer R. Kelly (seen here in 1999), was indicted on 21 counts of sexual intercourse with a minor after a videotape was leaked allegedly showing Kelly with the 14-year-old daughter of an associate. The charges were reduced to child pornography after it was confirmed the tape never showed actual sexual intercourse. After several delays, the case finally went to trial in Chicago in 2008. The jury found Kelly innocent of all 14 charges after less than a day of deliberations.

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Casey Anthony

Though she waited 31 days to report her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, missing, and spent the intervening time partying -- and despite a bewildering web of lies, and evidence that there had been a dead body in the trunk of her car -- Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering the child after a much-publicized trial in Orlanda, Fla., on July 5, 2011.

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Shocking Acquittals

O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony are two of the most shocking ‘not guilty’ verdicts in U.S. history, but there have been other high-profile acquittals that came as a surprise. For more, take a look at the LIFE.com gallery. 

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