Oscar Pistorius and other high-profile athletes who faced murder charges

February 14, 2013

Oscar Pistorius, center, has been charged with murder in South Africa. (AFP / Getty Images)

The murder allegations against iconic Paralympian Oscar Pistorius — the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the Olympics — shocked millions in his native South Africa and around the world.

But Pistorius is hardly the first high-profile athlete to face serious criminal charges. From the 1980s cult killings of St. Louis Cardinal Robert Rozier to the more publicized cases of O.J. Simpson and Rae Carruth, dozens of athletes have faced murder and manslaughter charges — though of course not all have been convicted.

  • O.J. Simpson: Simpson, a former star running back for the Bills and 49ers, was charged but acquitted of the 1994 murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. Three years later, however, a civil court held Simpson responsible for their wrongful deaths and ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million in damages. He is serving a prison sentence on unrelated charges.
  • Jovan Belcher: The 25-year-old linebacker was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs when, during a drunken argument in December 2012, he shot his girlfriend multiple times and subsequently killed himself.
  • Rae Carruth: Carruth, a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers, was convicted in 2001 of conspiring to murder Cherica Adams, a woman who was pregnant with his child. Adams was shot during a drive-by shooting and later died, though her child survived; prosecutors claimed that Carruth planned the drive-by.
  • Ray Lewis: The linebacker was indicted on murder and aggravated-assault charges in early 2000 after two men died in a large fight he was involved in. His case never went to trial, however — Lewis accepted a misdemeanor plea and a civil settlement, and went on to a successful career with the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Jayson Williams: Williams, a former center for the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets, was sentenced to five years in prison for the February 2002 shooting death of his limousine driver, ESPN reports. Originally charged with reckless manslaughter, Williams eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
  • Mark Rogowski: Rogowski was a skateboarding icon in the ‘80s and early ‘90s before he pleaded guilty to raping and murdering a friend of his ex-girlfriend. He was denied parole in 2011, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • Darryl Henley: The former Los Angeles Rams cornerback was imprisoned on drug charges when he allegedly tried to hire someone to kill a witness and the judge in his case. Under several plea agreements, Henley accepted a combined 41-year prison sentence, according to ESPN.
  • Leonard Little: The former defensive end for the St. Louis Rams pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the death of Susan Gutweiler, whose car he collided with while driving drunk after a 1998 birthday party.
  • Robert Rozier: Rozier is probably better known for his bizarre murder case than for his brief time with the St. Louis Cardinals. Rozier confessed to killing seven men in the 1980s as sacrifices for a black separatist cult called Yahweh ben Yahweh; according to the New York Times, he served 10 years for those murders after testifying against the cult’s leader.
Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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