Echoes of OJ as judge lets footballer go free
Thursday 20 June 1996
The similarities appeared to end when a jury found Brian Blades guilty of shooting dead Charles Blades after a drinking bout in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last year. But then, two days later, came the bombshell.
Expecting to be sentenced for up to 10 years, Brian Blades, a 30-year- old with a $4.5m (pounds 3m) three-year contract as a "wide receiver" for the Seattle Seahawks, showed up to be told how long he would be jailed for. Two minutes later he was as free as OJ and the comparisons and controversy returned.
Within those two minutes, Circuit Court judge Susan Lebow announced that she, as "a reasonable person", had concluded the prosecution had not come up with enough evidence. In effect, she declared the jury's decision to be irrelevant, since the jurors had got the answer wrong. Judge Lebow was almost into her chambers before the defence lawyers realised what had happened, Blades shouted "hallelujah" and his relatives erupted in cheers.
Most of Florida, however, was stunned, saying the ruling showed bias because of Blades' Florida background, fame and fortune, and would encourage youths - especially in Miami's crime-ridden black ghettos - to settle disputes with guns. "An outrageous ruling," screamed a Miami Herald editorial. "Surely it will be reversed" . The judge is nicknamed "Let 'Em Go Lebow" because of her lenient decisions.
The court had heard the footballer's chauffeur describe how, after an apparent drunken argument with his cousin, Brian Blades came back to his waiting limousine outside the relative's home to get a gun and return to the house.
In a call to emergency services afterwards, and in testimony, Brian Blades said the gun had gone off by accident.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Harrison Ford plane crash: Actor will make full recovery thanks to 'beautifully executed' landing
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Oxford whistleblower's attempt to protect young victim of a sadistic gang went unheeded
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...