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CNN Today

Another Theory: Lawyer F. Lee Bailey Believes Neighbor Wife Killed Marilyn Sheppard

Aired February 16, 2000 - 1:35 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A famed lawyer says he thinks Dr. Sam Sheppard's wife was killed not by Sheppard but by a female neighbor. F. Lee Bailey, who defended Sheppard against murder charges in the 1960s, appeared as a witness in a new inquiry into the case.

CNN's Ed Garsten has the story from Cleveland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the witness stand for a second day, Attorney F. Lee Bailey testified he believed Marilyn Sheppard was beaten to death by her lover's wife, Esther Houk. She caught the two together in Mrs. Sheppard's bedroom.

F. LEE BAILEY, SHEPPARD LAWYER: I'm not sure it was a jealousy, but somebody was with her man and she didn't like it.

GARSTEN: Bailey contends when Dr. Sam Sheppard heard his wife scream he tried to intervene, but he was beaten severely by his wife's lover, Spencer Houk. It's a theory Bailey says was never introduced at Sheppard's first trial in 1954 which convicted him of the murder. That omission, he said, was not an oversight but an order by Sheppard to help protect his wife's reputation.

BAILEY: Dr. Sheppard did not permit his lawyers in the first trial to fully explore the true motive for the killing and let the state slide in a motive that was spurious.

GARSTEN: In 1966, Bailey won Sheppard's release from prison when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the media frenzy made it impossible for his original trial to be fair. His son, Sam Reese Sheppard, is now suing the state of Ohio in civil court to have his father declared innocent. If he wins, it would clear the way for him to seek as much as $2 million in damages for wrongful imprisonment.

The younger Sheppard disagrees with Bailey. He believes Richard Eberling, a window washer in the house, was the real murderer. Bailey testified, however, he believed his more theory was more plausible. Eberling died in 1998 while serving a life term for an unrelated murder.

(on camera): The original case is the one that inspired the TV series and the movie "The Fugitive," and this long-awaited legal sequel is expected to last another six to eight weeks.

Ed Garsten, CNN, Cleveland, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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