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Celebrities who killed people in real life
Alex Bourque
Celebrities lead lives of which most of us could only dream. While their wealth and power position them in the lap of luxury, when it comes to something as serious as murder, no amount of fame is enough to escape the criminal justice system. Sure some have gotten away with it, and some have served time, but they all had to face the music at some point.

The deaths caused by the celebs on this list are the result of everything from tragic accidents to grisly premeditated murders. One of them even occurred live at a televised sporting event, and the clip was passed around the internet like so many other viral videos.

Amazingly, only two of the famous folks on this list are still in jail as of this writing, but regardless, they all share the same dark, common bond. These are the celebs who reportedly killed people in real life.

Michael Jace

In May 2016, a Los Angeles jury convicted actor Michael Jace of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife, April Jace, in May 2014. Michael was best known for playing police officer Julian Lowe on the crime series The Shield (2002-2008).

According to Us Weekly, Michael told detectives he never intended to kill his wifeonly injure her. The murder occurred at Michael and April's home in front of their two sons, who were ages 5 and 8 at the time. The elder son told the court that before his dad shot his mom three times, his dad told her, "If you like running, then run to heaven." Michael called 911 after the shooting and told the operator what he'd done.

Michael appeared to be under severe financial strain in the years before his 2014 arrest, according to court documents obtained by CNN. He filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, citing $500,000 in debts and an annual income of around $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work. He had defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on his home. According to CBS News, April told her husband she wanted a divorce the day of the shooting.

"I just ruined lives," Michael reportedly told detectives after the incident. "you could put the needle in my arm right now and be done. I'm fine with that."

Michael was sentenced to to 40 years to life in prison, according to ABC7.

Chris Benoit

In a horrific murder/suicide, wrestling star Chris Benoit reportedly strangled his wife, smothered his 7-year-old son, and placed Bibles at their sides before hanging himself from the pulley of a weight machine in June 2007, reported FoxNews. There was rampant speculation about Benoit abusing steroids, but a report published by the Sports Legacy Institute (via Science Daily) indicated that years of head trauma likely resulted in the kind of brain damage necessary to drive someone to commit such a heinous act.

Matthew Broderick

Fresh off filming Ferris Bueller's Day Off(1986), Matthew Broderick and his co-star Jennifer Grey took a trip to Ireland in 1987, but the vacation was tragically cut short when Broderick failed to keep his rental car in the proper lane and collided head-on with a car being driven by a mother and daughter, killing them both instantly. Broderick was badly injured, but Grey escaped relatively unscathedalthough according to People, she was traumatized into quasi-retirement. Broderick was reportedly charged with careless driving and fined $175, reported the New York Post.

Tony Stewart

Nobody ever said auto racing was safe, yet while accidents routinely occur during the sport, deaths are relatively rare. Sadly, this was not the case when, in 2014, Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward during a dirt-track race at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York.

Controversy swirled over whether or not Stewart intentionally struck Ward, as well as why Ward climbed out of the safety of his vehicle in the first place and decided to walk onto the track during an active race. According to CBS Sports, agrand jury cleared Stewart of wrongdoing and also discovered that Ward had been under the influence of marijuana the night he died.

Ward's family sued, alleging Stewart could have easily avoided hitting Ward. Stewart and the Ward family eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money, although Ward's mother, Pamela, they USA Today that the family "felt like we were being forced to settle," after their lawfirm refused to take the case to trial just weeks ahead of their court date.

"We wanted (Stewart) to be held accountable in front of a jury of his peers," Pamela Ward continued. "He was not held accountable in a criminal case. He basically has never been held responsible at any point."

Charles S. Dutton

Before taking an interest in acting, Charles S. Dutton had a pretty rough life. According to theChicago Tribune,the name of his 1990s Fox sitcom, Roc, came from his real-life nickname, which he earned through his frequent participation in rock-throwing fights as a kid."I liked getting in trouble," he said (via NPR). "I enjoyed getting in fights. I enjoyed the challenge of battle."

This penchant for violence escalated. At age17, he reportedly killed a man, and though Dutton claimed he was defending himself from an attack, the incident resulted in a manslaughter conviction and a 5-year sentence. According to NPR, "Even in prison, though, he continued his fighting ways, assaulting a guard and getting eight years added to his sentence. A decade or so later, he was on his way to 'the hole' for solitary confinement when he picked up a book of plays sent to him by a girlfriend. It ended up changing his life. As he puts it, he found what he was 'born to do.'" Dutton petitioned the warden to start a prison drama group.

Upon his release, Dutton earned amaster'sdegree in acting from the Yale School of Drama and became an Emmy-winning actor and advocate through his "From Jail to Yale" stage performance.

Rebecca Gayheart

In June 2001, actress Rebecca Gayheart was driving her friend's car in Los Angeles when she hit 9-year-old Jorge Cruz Jr. "as he jaywalked across the street," according to E! News. Cruz survived the initial strike, but died of his injuries a day later at L.A. Children's Hospital. Eyewitnesses said that after several cars stopped to let Cruz cross, Gayheart allegedly "swerved around the traffic and into a two-way left-turn lane, hitting the boy."

Gayheart, who police said was not intoxicated at the time of the accident, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. She was sentenced to "three years' probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine," and "750 hours of community service," reported E! News. Though she's rarely spoken publicly about the details of the accident, on the day of her sentencing Gayheart's lawyer said, "It was the worst thing that could ever have happened to her, killing a child. She feels terrible." Gayheart also settled a wrongful death civil suit filed against her by the Cruz family for an undisclosed amount.

In May 2005, the former "Noxema girl" told People that it took her years to cope with that tragic day. She claims she "couldn't really function for a while" and eventually turned to therapy to try to rebuild her life. "I don't think anyone could sit and say they got over something like this," she said, "I just don't think that's possible. It hasn't been for me."

Lane Garrison

In 2006, actor Lane Garrison's career prospects were looking good. He had a recurring role on Prison Break as David "Tweener" Apolskis (2005-07) as well as a small part in the Mark Wahlberg action blockbusterShooter(2007). But on Dec. 2, 2006, the 26-year-old star decided to party with some teens he met in a grocery store parking lot, and everything went sideways.

According to People, Garrison went to a party with the teens and was "driving them back to the store" when he lost control of his Land Rover and hit a tree. Seventeen-year-old passenger Vahagn Setian was rushed to the hospitalbut did not survive. An unidentified 15-year-old female passenger suffered "a fractured pelvis and shattered arm," and another15-year-old female passenger was "not seriously injured." At the time of the crash, People reported that Garrison's blood alcohol level was .20 and police reported that he had "an undisclosed amount of cocaine his system, according to a blood test."

Garrisonpleaded guilty to "vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and two other alcohol-related charges," according to People. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

After serving his time, Garrison told theTodayshow that it was difficult for him to not be able to reach out to the Setian family on account of a court order barring him from contacting them. "There's a family that doesn't have their son. The least of my worries was doing jail time. The whole notion that I was responsible for someone losing their life, that's what really ate me up inside. This is something that I am never going to get over, they're never going to get over," Garrison said.


In December 2006, R&B singer Brandy (full name Brandy Norwood) rear-ended another motorist, Awatef Aboudihaj, which caused a chain reaction involving four cars. Aboudihaj died as a result of "major injuries" sustained during the crash, reportedPeople.

After ayear-long investigation, prosecutors determined "there was insufficient evidence" to charge Brandy with vehicular manslaughter. The "Have You Ever" singer didsettle various lawsuits with the other motorists, including one with Aboudihaj's husband for an undisclosed amount. She also reportedlyagreed to pay $300,000 each to Aboudihaj's two sons, who were in the vehicle with their mom at the time of the accident.

Speaking with Oprah Winfrey in 2014 (via HuffPost), Brandy said the tragedy renewed her faith in Godbecause she had "no one else to turn to." She also echoed the sentiments of others on this list, describing the lasting toll of this terrible turn of events. "Being involved in something that tragic I couldn't believe it," she said. "I don't think that's something I could ever get over or ever truly understand, but that was one of the worst times in my life."


About the Author

Alex Bourque: Editor, consultant, idea diva, aspiring yogi. Collected all 151 Pokemon.
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