Lawyer Who Shot Himself Proving His Client's Innocence

BBC

In Ohio in 1871,Clement Vallandigham spent his last few days, fighting to prove his client's innocence.

Vallandigham was halfway through the case at the time, and he believe this would be the greatest one of his life.

This case was highly publicized throughout the town.

The Christmas Eve before, a man named Thomas Myers had been playing cards in a private room above a bar in nearby Hamilton when five men known as "thugs" busted in and a huge brawl broke out.

Gun shots were fired and a man was killed. In the wild confusion of the moment, as gamblers fled in all directions, it wasn't clear what was happening.

When the witnesses later recounted their stories, one name came up again and again, which was Thomas McGehan. McGehan and the man shot were known to dislike each other greatly.

No-one could say for sure that he was armed that night, but he was certainly one of the gang members. After that, the town was satisfied and thought they found their killer.

On the evening after the prosecution had closed their arguments, Vallandigham went to conduct an experiment to establish the levels of residue left by a shot fired at point-blank range.

When he was done, three live rounds remained in the chamber of his pistol.

Back at his hotel, he was handed a parcel. Inside was the victim's gun, unloaded, and ready to be examined. Vallandigham went to his room, and put both pistols beside each other.

During his test the night before, Vallandigham had discovered that the man killed, actually shot himself.

Because he was so excited to share this new information with the court, he decided to perform the demonstration himself. You can probably see where this is headed.

Unfortunately, Vallandigham accidentally grabbed the loaded gun and while demonstrating, he shot himself. He ended up proving his point to the court, but to an extent that nobody needed to see.

Vallandigham died saving another man. Thomas McGehan was acquitted due to Vallandigham's new information, but ended up being shot a few years later.

Some may call Vallandigham very stupid for not seeing how this situation could have played out, and others say he died honorably saving another mans life. Either way, he really should have emptied that chamber.