The Most Infamous Trials to Ever Happen in America

America has a rich history of infamous trials. The goings on during court proceedings provide the American public with a fascinating look into the justice system. Many high-profile cases involve murderers and serial killers. Ahead, discover the most infamous trials to ever happen in America.

Casey Anthony

Casey Anthony (R) leaves with her attorney Jose Baez

She was on trial for her daughter’s homicide. | Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images

The story of Casey Anthony remains fresh in many Americans’ minds. In 2008, Anthony’s mother reports her granddaughter Caylee Marie Anthony, 2, missing. Unbeknownst to her, Caylee is already gone. Casey goes on trial for her daughter’s homicide and is found innocent amid public outrage.

Hint: This married couple sold secrets.

Espionage trial of the Rosenbergs

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

They were executed for espionage. | Roger Higgins/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

In 1951, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are “tried, convicted, and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage by selling nuclear secrets to the USSR,” according to Mental Floss. They’re the only American citizens to be executed for espionage during the Cold War. Their trial is credited for fueling Cold War paranoia among the American people. It’s no question the trial remains infamous to this day.

Hint: Abuse is a major topic in this case.

The Menendez brothers

The Menendez brothers

The Menendez brothers were convicted of killing their parents. | Mike Nelson/Getty Images

Brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez brutally kill their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion in 1989. The public thinks the boys kill their parents to inherit their sizable fortune. However, during their trial, they confess to years of abuse at the hands of their parents. They’re on trial the same time as O.J. Simpson, cementing both cases as infamous. Lyle and Erik are serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hint: This infamous case involves a former president.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

He was impeached. | Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images

Unlike other trials on our list, this is not a murder trial. Instead, this is a trial involving the president of the United States. In 1998, President Bill Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives following a sex scandal with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Then in 1999, the Senate acquits Clinton, according to Mental Floss.

Hint: Curiosity and thrill drive these two to commit murder.  

Leopold and Loeb

Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold

They wanted to carry out the “perfect crime.” | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, obsessed with committing the “perfect crime,” kill 14-year-old, Bobby Franks on May 21, 1924. The crime isn’t perfect because the young men end up on trial for Franks’ homicide. What makes this case infamous is that their defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, keeps the pair from getting the death penalty with a 12-hour-long closing argument, according to Mental Floss. Loeb is killed by an inmate in the shower at the age of 30 and Leopold is paroled 34 years later.

Hint: Looking good is this murderer’s concern.

Jodi Arias

police tape

She’s serving a life sentence. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The brutal murder of Jodi’s ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, her dynamic personality, and a Mona Lisa-esque mugshot photo makes Jodi — along with her trial — infamous. Arias is currently serving a life sentence “after two juries deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty,” according to Biography.

Hint: Haircuts and singing occur during this trial.

Manson family

charles manson mugshot

He died serving a life sentence. | California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Getty Images

Charles Manson, leads a cult-like group to murder eight people in 1969. The trial is littered with unusual events, cementing the case as infamous. For instance, Manson’s followers sing on their way to court and shave their heads. Manson uses similar tactics in the courtroom to distract from his case. In the end, the court sentences Manson and his followers to death, which later becomes life in prison.

Hint: Movies, TV shows, and books are created about this case.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson

The case is famous for his acquittal. | Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images

The trial of football star O.J. Simpson is historic. The trial’s infamous for O.J.’s acquittal. In the court of public opinion, views are split on his innocence. The statement, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” goes down in history for defense attorney Johnny Cochran. Decades later, the case is still infamous.

Hint: This murderer’s number of victims is likely in the triple digits.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy

He is believed to have killed more than 100 women. | State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory/Wikimedia Commons

Believed to have killed more than 100 women in his lifetime, is serial killer and rapist, Ted Bundy. He appeals his death sentence for years, according to Biography. The number of victims and the way in which Bundy kills them makes his trial particularly infamous. So much so, actor Zac Efron is playing him in a movie.

Hint: A kidnapping becomes a murder case.

Murder of Lindbergh baby

Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., son of the American aviator

The press coverage of the trial was like nothing that had been seen before. | BIPS/Getty Images

On March 1, 1932, the son of famous pilot Charles Lindbergh is discovered missing. Two months later, the baby’s remains are found, marking the start of a two-year investigation, according to Mental Floss. Bruno Richard Hauptmann goes on trial for the child’s murder, where the press use sound cameras for the first time during a criminal trial. The press surrounding the case is unlike anyone has ever seen.

Hint: This church-going serial killer evades capture for decades.

BTK killer

BTK killer

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. | Travis Heying-Pool/Getty Images

Dennis Rader, better known as the “BTK Killer,” kills 10 people in Kansas over the course of 17 years, according to Biography. He leaves clues to taunt authorities along the way. Finally caught and on trial in 2005, Rader pleads guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder. During the trial, Rader speaks of the gruesome murders with no emotion, clearly not remorseful.

Hint: A man’s missing wife leads to an explosive trial.

Scott Peterson

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson is escorted by two San Mateo County Sheriff deputies as he is walked from the jail to an awaiting van.

He was convicted of killing his wife and unborn child. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another recent trial, is that of Scott Peterson. Peterson’s unusual behavior following his wife’s disappearance is scrutinized by the public. We soon learn Peterson is having an affair, telling his mistress his wife is deceased. His trial in the court of public opinion is soon underway. A jury convicts him of killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. Peterson is currently serving a life sentence and maintains his innocence.

Hint: 29 needles are found in this serial killer’s stomach.

Albert Fish

He was a serial killer. | David Calvert/Getty Images

The trial of cannibal and serial killer, Albert Fish, starts with him implicating himself in other homicides. Then, a victim’s parent raises his fist at Fish in the courtroom. All this happens in the early 1930s with press capturing photographs of the defendant before and after court proceedings, according to the Daily News.

Hint: 10 hours is all it takes for a jury to convict this serial killer.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer

Tension was high during his trial. | Eugene Garcia/AFP/Getty Images

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer trial includes 8 feet of bulletproof glass surrounding him because of tension among the public at the time, according to Biography. Dahmer changes his plea during the trial, ultimately receiving a guilty verdict after 10 hours of jury deliberation. While serving his prison term of 16 life sentences, an inmate beats Dahmer to death.

Hint: Insanity is the crux of this serial killer’s case.

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy clown

He often dressed as his clown alter ego. | Steve Terrell/Wikimedia Commons

Better known as the “serial killer clown,” John Wayne Gacy murders 33 (that we know of) young men in Cook County, Illinois, burying the majority under his home, according to Biography. Gacy’s trial is memorable because of his crimes and because he’s already confessed to the police before his trial begins. Once underway, arguments are about whether or not Gacy is insane. The court deems Gacy fit to stand trial, and he ultimately receives 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences.

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Read more: The Most Terrifying American Serial Killers of All Time (Including 3 Who Never Got Caught)