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The Sam Sheppard Trial 2000: The Sheppard Pretrial Part 2

Wednesday, February 2, 2000 at 2:31 PM

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More pretrial motions are underway for the Sheppard trial. The Cuyahoga county prosecutor's office and lawyers for the Sheppard family are going over what evidence can or can't be brought into this new trial. Sam Reese Sheppard is trying to clear his father's name in his mother's murder back in 1954.

The hearing took less than an hour, but no resolutions were made on whether specific types of evidence could be brought into this case. The Cuyahoga county prosecutor’s office doesn’t want information on murders, three of which were allegedly committed by Richard Eberling...saying it would be confusing to a jury. He was the window washer employed by the Sheppard. Attorneys for the Sheppard family believe Eberling was Marilyn’s killer. He was in prison serving time for a 1984 murder when he died two years ago. Sheppard attorney Terry Gilbert says Eberling’s past is relevant and a necessary part of the overall testimony.

Judge Ronald Suster says he will make a decision on all of the pretrial motions later this week. The hearings will continue at 9:30 this morning.

Yolanda Perdomo for 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.


Judge Ronald Suster is expected to rule on at least 11 pretrial motions before the end of this week in the Sheppard case. Sam Reese Sheppard is suing Cuyahoga county to clear his father’s name in the brutal slaying of his mother Marilyn. Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted, and given a life sentence for the crime. But he served only 10 years because the U-S Supreme Court ruled that he received an unfair trial based on the how the 1954 trial was portrayed in the media.

Some of the evidence that the Cuyahoga county prosecutor’s office wants out of this new Sheppard case involves information on and about Richard Eberling. He was a window washer who, according to attorneys for Sam Reese Sheppard, is the likely suspect for the murder of Marilyn Sheppard. Eberling was also suspected in the deaths of four other women, and was serving time for the 1984 murder of an elderly woman when he died in 1998. Sheppard attorney Terry Gilbert says Eberling’s profile is indicative of someone, other than Sam Sheppard, as a possible suspect.

Terry Eberling- Within a month before he died, in his own handwriting, admitted killing Ethyl Durkin, which he had denied for the last 10 years of his life. Barbara Kunzel, who was a nurse at Bayview Hospital. Who was killed almost two years to the day after Marilyn Sheppard was murdered. He admitted to killing Myrtle Fraye, who was a sister of Ethyl Durkin. And Sara Bell Fellow, who was another sister of Ethyl Durkin, met her untimely demise by supposedly falling down a staircase in her home. Three sisters. At least preliminarily, for purposes of this motion, we would proffer to this court that we would indeed be able to establish some evidence that he killed at least four individuals in addition to the possibility that he killed Marilyn Sheppard.

YP- Kathleen Martin, an assistant Cuyahoga county prosecutor says that Eberling evidence is immaterial to the death of Marilyn Sheppard...arguing that it has nothing to do with this case and that it would if anything, confuse the jury.

Kathleen Martin- If you follow this logic, that Richard Eberling killed one, and maybe more other people, and therefore the jury should hear about it when they’re deciding whether or not Sam Sheppard is innocent of the murder of Marilyn Sheppard. Then the same logic would apply for every murder trial pending in Cuyahoga county, every defendant, counsel in those cases should just say Richard Eberling is probably the murderer in this other murder case because after all he killed other people. whether or not he killed one or more of those women is not the test. The test is, is there a behavioral fingerprint between those crimes and plaintiffs have not made that showing. And absent that showing, the rule excludes it, and excludes it for a good reason because it is highly prejudicial and confusing.

YP- Another motion to be considered is opinion testimony on Sheppard’s guilt or innocence. Judge Suster is expected to hear at least 4 separate motions today, beginning at 9:30 this morning. The judge wants the prosecution’s office and attorneys for Sam Reese Sheppard to hammer out specifics that will go into the jury questionnaire. Judge Suster says he’ll make a decisions on all the pretrial motions in the next few days. They’ll take a break from the action on Thursday and reconvene for another pretrial hearing on Friday morning.

Yolanda Perdomo for 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.

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