Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 August 2020

'Trial By Media': where are the Talk Show Murderer, the Subway Vigilante and Diallo's mother now?

What happened to some of the key subjects from Netflix's 'Trial By Media' after the events of the show

Netflix’s new legal docuseries Trial By Media unravels some of the most interesting and jaw-dropping court cases from the past 30 years.

Each of the six episodes in the George Clooney-produced show explores how public opinion and the media played a part in steering court rulings.

Sometimes, this was a good thing, considering that biases and antiquated attitudes would have blocked justice. But, it wasn't always for the best.

Seen the show already and want to know what happened to some of the key subjects? Read on below. If you haven't watched it yet, do so, and then come back ...

Jonathan Schmitz: the talk show murderer

Trial by Media: Talk Show Murder. Jonathan Schmitz in Trial by Media: Talk Show Murder. c. Courtesy of Netflix/2020
Jonathan Schmitz in 'Trial by Media: Talk Show Murder'. Courtesy Netflix

On March 9, 1995 – three days after taping an episode of the tabloid talk show The Jenny Jones Show – Jonathan Schmitz went to Scott Amedure’s house and shot him twice in the chest. The murder took place after Amedure confessed to being attracted to Schmitz on the tabloid talk show.

As recounted in the episode Talk Show Murder, the highly publicised trial revealed that Schmitz was bipolar and suffered from Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Schmitz was charged with second-degree murder and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in jail and a maximum of 50.

However, Schmitz was released from jail on parole in 2017, after having served 22 years of his sentence. He has since refused all interview requests and did not appear in the Netflix show.

Frank Amedure was discontent with and irritated by the release of his brother’s murderer. In a statement made to Inside Edition, the teary-eyed Amedure said: “We will never be the same.” He then sent a message to Schmitz, saying: “I hope you are sorry for what you did.”

Schmitz keeps an incredibly low profile and is now bound by the strict rules of his parole. It is reported that he lives in Michigan.

Jenny Jones: the talk show host

The Canadian-American stand-up comedian and TV host's show – described by critics as being an “ambush TV show” – served as a catalyst to the crime.

The Amedure family sued the producers of the Jenny Jones Show, saying that they should never have had Schmitz on, given his mental illness. In 1999, a jury in Michigan ordered the producers to pay the family $25 million (Dh113.3m). The ruling was seen as a searing indictment against the “Trash TV” genre, as it marked the first time a television programme was held accountable for the actions of a guest.

However, the verdict was later overturned by the Michigan appeals court.

Surprisingly, the case did not mark the end of The Jenny Jones Show, which continued to be broadcast until 2003, for a total of 12 seasons. It was only cancelled after viewership numbers fell and it became the lowest-rated daytime talk show.

The cancellation marked the end of Jones's TV career. However, she still blogs about her life. She has also published two books, one of which is a biography, while the other is a cookbook.

Jones is also active on social media, where she shares cooking advice on her YouTube and Instagram channels.

Bernhard Goetz: the subway vigilante

Better known as the Subway Vigilante, as detailed in the episode of the same name, Goetz shot four black teenagers who were attempting a mugging in a subway train in New York City in 1984.

Goetz became an unexpected hero of sorts for New Yorkers after the attack, with crime rampant in the city at the time.

However, after his statements to the police became known to the public, he was seen in a different light.

“I wanted to kill those guys. I wanted to maim those guys. I wanted to make them suffer in every way I could,” he said. “If I had more bullets, I would have shot them all again and again. My problem was I ran out of bullets.”

It was later found that Goetz may have shot one of his attackers after they were completely incapacitated: it's thought this shot left Darrell Cabey permanently paralysed.

After the first phase of the trial, Goetz became a frequent figure in the media, and became much more outspoken about his, often inflammatory, opinions. He believed the city’s civilians should be allowed to arm themselves.

A firestorm of controversy began as people began to question whether he would have been so quick to shoot his would-be muggers had they been white.

In 1987, Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder but was found guilty of possessing an illegal weapon. In 1997, he was in court again in a civil trial carried out by the Cabey family. The jury ordered that Goetz pay the Cabey family $43m – $18m for pain and suffering and $25m in punitive damages.

However, Goetz immediately filed for bankruptcy, and when asked in 2004 whether he was making the payments ordered against him, he replied: "I don't think I've paid a penny on that."

Here is file footage of Goetz on CNN:

Goetz made the news again after he was arrested on drug charges in 2013. However, a year later, those charges were dropped by a judge who reasoned that the prosecutors had taken too long to bring the case to court.

The 72-year-old regularly appeared on talk radio in the 2010s, and still resides in his home in Queens, New York City.

He has kept a lower profile recently, however, he did appear on talk radio with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani late last month:

Kadijatou Diallo: the activist mother

Amadou Diallo was a 23-year-old Guinean immigrant in New York City, who was brutally murdered outside his apartment by four NYPD officers in 1999. The plain-clothes officers shot Diallo 41 times even though Diallo was unarmed and hadn't committed a crime.

The case sparked an outburst of controversy, and became representative of a number of issues, such as police brutality and racial profiling.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the the 41 shots episode of the Netflix show is when Amadou Diallo’s mother travels to New York City from Guinea, determined to see for herself where he was murdered. She appears on the street where her son lived in tears as she calls out his name.

"America was a hope to my son, who was on his way to achieving greatness," Diallo says in the show.

To make matters worse, the four officers who murdered Diallo were acquitted of all charges in 2000. "It was like saying to me that my child had caused his own death," she says.

However, Kadijatou remained vigilant and stoic after that moment, eager to make sure she found justice. Diallo’s parents filed a $61m lawsuit against the city and the police department, citing wrongful death, gross negligence, racial profiling and other violations of Diallo’s civil rights.

Four years later, they accepted a $3m settlement.

In 2003, Kadijatou published a memoir called My Heart Will Cross This Ocean: My Story, My Son, Amadou. Kadijatou is an activist now, and continues to talk about the tragic fate her son met as a way to fight against injustices inflicted upon the black community of New York by authorities.

"We saw America differently before [Amadou] went to the US. You don't see the reality in the news," she says in the show.

Al Sharpton: the minister politician

Trial by Media: Subway Vigilante. Al Sharpton in Trial by Media: Subway Vigilante. c. Courtesy of Netflix/2020
Al Sharpton in 'Trial by Media: Subway Vigilante'. Courtesy Netflix

Of all the activists who appear in Trial By Media, few stand out quite as much as Al Sharpton. The Baptist minister and civil rights activist was at the forefront of the Amadou Diallo case, leading the protests against the racial profiling and police brutality that led to Amadou’s death.

Sharpton – who founded the civil rights organisation National Action Network in 1991 – also appears in the Subway Vigilante episode, as he was spearheading the fight against Goetz, saying that he would not have shot the four young men on the subway had they been white.

Al Sharpton has remained politically active after the events in Trial By Media.

In 2004, he became a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the US presidential election, which John Kerry eventually secured.

Sharpton also hosts a US radio programme in New York City called Keepin’ It Real with Al Sharpton, which is broadcast on weekday evenings. The activist makes regular appearances on cable news television and, in 2011, he became the host of MSNBC’s talk show PoliticsNation.

Sharpton also survived an assassination attempt in 1991 after being seriously wounded when he was stabbed in the chest in a schoolyard in Brooklyn, where he was leading a protest.

His attacker, Michael Riccardi, who was reportedly intoxicated during the attack, was convicted of first-degree assault in 1992. However, Sharpton asked the judge to show leniency while sentencing Riccardi, who eventually served 10 years in prison.

Updated: May 11, 2020 06:24 PM

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