In a lot of ways, celebrities are just like everyone else – they make mistakes, execute bad judgement calls and get involved in criminal activity. Some have even killed people.
Singer Brandy Norwood rear ended a car in December, 2006, killing the driver. The star was never charged with a crime; however, the victim’s parents, husband, and children, as well as two other drivers involved in the incident filed lawsuits against the star. She settled them all out of court.
During a 2012 episode of VH1’s “Behind The Music,” Brandy said of the incident: “They know that they can call me a murderer or call me someone that killed someone. They know that is a button for me. A murderer is someone who premeditates it. I didn’t wake up that day to be involved in a fatal car crash. I didn’t plan for that. And if I could take it back, I would.”
Actor Matthew Broderick was also involved in a fatal car crash. He was vacationing in Ireland with actress and then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey in 1987 when he crossed into the wrong lane and collided head on with another car, killing the 28-year-old driver and the woman’s 63-year-old mother. Broderick was convicted of careless driving and paid a $175 fine.
In 2012, Grey talked to CNN about how difficult the premiere of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was because she was involved in the crash just days before the red carpet event.
“That movie’s about a loss of innocence, and I feel like when that movie came out, six days before, I was in a car crash where a mother and daughter were killed, and I feel like my life changed, and that was a loss of my innocence, ” she explained. “We all have different little windows into the possibility of what life can be, and the joy that life can have, and I look at [red carpet footage of herself from that time] and I look so in shock… so, kind of, checked out. And I’m such a different person now.”
Professional football player and “The Naked Gun” star OJ Simpson was acquitted of killing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman during a controversial trial in 1995, though many believe he was responsible for their deaths. He was found liable in civil court and ordered to pay the families of the deceased over $30 million.
When Simpson was charged with their murders, he refused to turn himself in to police and famously sped off in a white Ford Bronco.
He is currently serving time in prison for unrelated charges of robbery and kidnapping.
In 1966, boxing promoter Don King got into a fight with one of his employees, who died after his head got smashed on the sidewalk. King served four years in jail for manslaughter.
“We were fighting,” King told Yahoo! Sports in 2011. “(It was) what I call the frustrations of the ghetto expressing themselves. And when you’re fighting in the ghetto, as you can see nowadays, and it was even worse then, you don’t (back down). So you go out there, you’re kicking and fighting and you have a tragic occurrence. His head hit the ground. Those are the things that happen.”
In 1984, Motley Crue singer Vince Neil drove drunk, lost control of his vehicle, collided with another car and killed his passenger, a member of Finnish hard rock band Hanoi Rocks, Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley. The two occupants of the other car suffered serious brain damage.
Neil was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 5 years of probation, and 200 hours community service. He was ordered to pay $2.6 million to the crash victims.
The rocker told Blender magazine in 2005: “I should have gone to prison. I definitely deserved to go to prison. But I did 30 days in jail and got laid and drank beer, because that’s the power of cash. That’s f**ked up.
“It’s changed now. But you’re 20-years-old and you’ve got a million dollars in your pocket and drugs and drink and women and fame and there are lawyers to protect you. We just thought we could do anything.”
The Sex Pistols singer and bass guitarist was arrested and charged with murdering his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in October 1978 at a Manhattan hotel. He switched his story several times regarding the stabbing, saying he didn’t mean to kill her and later saying he didn’t remember the incident. A 2009 documentary claimed Vicious couldn’t have killed Spungen because he was passed out from drug use during the time of her death – instead, a fellow hotel guest was responsible. The British rocker died of a heroin overdose four months after his girlfriend’s death.
Actress Rebecca Gayheart struck a nine-year-old boy with her car in 2001. He died the following day. The actress was sentenced to three years of probation, a one-year driver’s license suspension, a $2,800 fine and 750 hours of community service.
She told People magazine in 2005: “It’s something that is with me every day, and it will be for the rest of my life…I can’t imagine how [the parents] feel. They are in my prayers every day.”
Following the crash was a “terrible, terrible time. I couldn’t really function for a while.” She couldn’t sleep or eat very much. “I just got to a point where I realized I needed help. I got into therapy. I’ve been in therapy since then. It’s really been helpful,” she explained.
“Prison Break” star Lane Garrison was jailed for two years for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence (DUI) following a 2006 crash in which he killed a 17-year-old.
He told TMZ.com in 2009: “It’s a painful experience I would wish on no one… That’s why you shouldn’t drink and drive, ever… You gotta be responsible. Be smart about it… It’s your worst nightmare.”
He added: “You establish yourself on a prison guard and the next thing you know, you’re being uprooted (at) about 3 a.m. The way it works is they strip you of your clothes and you’re naked in your cell for about 13 hours. Then they chain you to a bus and you’re heading to your next prison.
“You have no idea where you’re headed or what’s gonna happen and you go on to your next prison yard, and you’ve got to establish yourself again and meet 2,000 other guys that are pretty hard. No notice, no warning. I was very blessed to come out of there alive.”
Record producer Phil Spector was charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson, who was found dead in his mansion in 2003. She died of a single gunshot wound to her mouth. Spector claimed it was self-inflicted. He was found guilty of murder in the second degree in a 2009 trial and sentenced to 19 years to life.
Actor Robert Blake was charged with murdering his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley in 2001, who was shot dead in his car outside a Studio City restaurant. His bodyguard was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Blake maintained his innocence throughout his trial. He was acquitted on one count of murder and one count of solicitation of murder. The prosecuting District Attorney insisted Blake was “guilty as sin” and labeled the jury “incredibly stupid.” In 2005, Blake was found liable of his wife’s death in a civil suit and was ordered to pay her family $30 million. He declared bankruptcy instead.
In May, 2014, “The Shield” actor Michael Jace called police and told them he shot his wife April. When he was brought in for questioning, he again admitted to the shooting. She died from multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body following a domestic dispute.
In September, 2012, “Sons of Anarchy” star Johnny Lewis got into a fight with his 81-year-old landlady Catherine Davis, murdered her with a blunt object, and killed her cat. Lewis then fell from Davis’ garage/roof and died. The actor previously served time behind bars for assault with a deadly weapon and had sought help for drug addiction, although an autopsy revealed he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he died.
“Roc” star Charles S. Hutton was convicted of manslaughter at the age of 17 after stabbing a man in a street fight. He claimed it was self-defense but served nearly eight years in prison.