Countdown Court TV’s Top 5 Trials of 2023

Posted at 9:38 AM, December 27, 2023

ATLANTA (Court TV)  — Watching the wheels of justice in action has become not only a pastime, but for many true crime fans, it’s an obsession.

2023 did not disappoint, as Court TV gave viewers a front-row seat to justice for dozens of trials across the U.S., but these five trials brought in the most viewers on

#5: Obsessed Ex-Boyfriend Murder Trial | WI v. Zachariah Anderson

The countdown begins with Zachariah Anderson, who was sentenced to life in prison two months after a jury convicted him of stalking and killing his ex-girlfriend Sadie Beacham’s new boyfriend, Rosalio Gutierrez Jr.

At the trial…

Zachariah Anderson in court

Zachariah Anderson appears in court with his attorney on March 2, 2023. (Court TV)

Gutierrez’s body was never found, but there was evidence in his case that pointed to Anderson, including blood in Anderson’s Dodge minivan, which incidentally was also missing a section of carpet and reportedly smelled of bleach. Two burn pits were discovered on Anderson’s property where cadaver dogs reportedly found pieces of clothing and a charred bleach bottle. Anderson is a father of three minors, one of whom testified about her dad’s alleged stalking behaviors. During her testimony, the defense accused Beacham of using sign language to communicate with her 14-year-old daughter on the stand, which she denied. Beacham did, however, admit to a possible “mom response” during her daughter’s testimony when she got “sassy” on the stand, to which Beacham said she may have mouthed the words, “shh, shh, shh” or mouthed something like “calm down.”


Who could forget when…

Just before Anderson received his sentence, Judge Bruce Schroeder, who also presided in the controversial Kyle Rittenhouse trial, allowed Anderson to address the court, to which Anderson replied, “How much time do I got?” The realization that Anderson was referring to the time he had to speak in court rather than the duration of his actual sentence makes this moment one of the top questions to never ask a judge.


Where is he now?

Zachariah Anderson is currently serving a life sentence at the maximum security prison in Wisconsin. The father of three maintains his innocence, along with members of his family who created a group and website called #FreeZachariahAnderson, which lays out many of the reasons they feel Anderson was wrongfully convicted. The website says, “All systems designed to protect and serve gobbled him up, stripped him of all ability to defend himself or maintain his innocence, and spit him out into a prison cell to waste away forgotten.”

#4: Boy in a Box Trial | FL v. Tim Ferriter

A man in a suit sits in court

Timothy Ferriter sits in court during the first day of his trial on Oct. 3, 2023. (Court TV)

Tim and Tracy Ferriter were both indicted in March 2022 of aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment of their adopted 14-year-old son, who police said was locked in a windowless 8×8 enclosure in the family’s garage for hours at a time with nothing but a mattress, desk and a bucket to use instead of a bathroom.

Although they were charged together, their cases were severed at Timothy’s request, citing comments his wife made to police when he was not present. The State offered what Tim’s attorney called a “last-minute plea deal” which was contingent upon Tracy also taking an undisclosed plea deal or Tim testifying in a proffer against his wife. Tim rejected the offer, and so the trial ensued.

At the trial…

Tim’s week-long trial was incriminating, largely due to the abundance of security camera footage showing from inside the custom-built room and first-hand accounts from his adopted children, including the victim, identified as RF during the trial. The videos captured by a motion-sensor Ring camera in the corner of the ceiling show multiple verbal and physical altercations between Tim and RF.

construction inside of a home

The 8×8 “box” that Tracy and Tim Ferriter had built in their garage. (Court TV)

Tim’s other adopted 17-year-old daughter, FF, testified that her dad was a disciplinarian who treated RF more harshly than his other children and exiled him to the room in the garage for most of the time that he spent at home. “I would hear him curse at him, I would hear contact, slapping and hitting, and hear my brother screaming,” she said. “He seemed he was always in trouble, ” FF testified. She said her brother was forced to live in a similar cell-like room when they lived in Tucson, Arizona, for five years before returning to Florida in Dec. 2021.

Timothy Ferriter opted not to testify in his defense and instead let the Ring videos from “the box” help make his case for locking up a son whose chronic behavioral issues threatened himself and their family.

An unforgettable moment was when…

Tim and Tracy Ferriter’s adopted son took the stand to describe what he called dehumanizing aggression from his father that he endured for years. RF described in detail how he was forced to live, eat and sleep separately from the rest of the family for years. He talked about the bucket in his room he had to urinate and defecate in, and the smell that resulted from it. He also talked about the times when his father would yell, curse, grab and shove him.

Where are they now?

Tim Ferriter appears in handcuffs

Tim Ferriter appears in handcuffs at a bond hearing. (Leonardy Marchesani/Scripps News West Palm Beach)

In the end, the jury convicted Tim Ferriter on all counts and a judge sentenced him to five years in prison and five years probation, less than the minimum under Florida’s sentencing guidelines. The judge said he was moved by the numerous letters of support and testimony of Ferriter’s character. He was persuaded that while the defendant “did a very, very bad thing, he was not innately evil.” RF even spoke at his father’s sentencing and said that he still loved him, despite everything he endured.

Ferriter’s defense attorney has already filed an appeal and asked that the judge let Tim out of jail in the meantime. The defense motion said Ferriter would live with his wife at the home of a third party and that Tim had already made employment arrangements, citing two job offers, one of which turned out to be fake. A local Mazda dealership told Scripps News West Palm Beach that the offer letter cited in Tim Ferriter’s defense motion was “complete and unequivocal forgery.”

A woman sits with her hand over her face

Tracy Ferriter sits in court as her husband is found guilty on charges of child abuse. (Court TV)

This was not Tim’s first attempt to score a get-out-of-jail-free card, Ferriter’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued to have him released on bond ahead of sentencing, which the judge denied.

Tim’s wife, Tracy Ferriter, is facing the same charges as her husband and is still awaiting trial, but she’s having trouble retaining counsel. Her first attorney withdrew over  “irreconcilable differences” and her latest attorney withdrew on the same day he entered his first appearance, saying that he did not have enough time to adequately prepare. The judge said whoever takes her attorney’s place should be prepared to go to trial in March 2024.

#3: Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Crash Trial | Terry Sanderson v. Gwyneth Paltrow

Court TV cameras were rolling when Terry Sanderson alleged he sustained a brain injury and four broken ribs on February 26, 2016, when Paltrow knocked him over while skiing down a beginner-level run at a posh Utah ski resort on Flagstaff Mountain. According to Sanderson’s lawsuit, the actress was skiing “out of control” when she crashed into Sanderson, who was downhill from her. However, the Goop founder and A-list actress recalled the collision differently. Paltrow said Sanderson was uphill from her and plowed into her from behind, causing her to sustain a “full body blow” which resulted in her missing out on a day of skiing with her family. Sanderson, who initially asked for more than $3.1 million in damages, lowered his demands to $300,000.

Who could forget when…

While the verdict was being read, Gwyneth Paltrow’s face remained stoic as it had been for most of the trial. As a guest on Closing Arguments with Vinnie Politan, Johnny Depp’s lead attorney Ben Chew used the words “sad sack” to describe Paltrow’s demeanor during her trial. Ultimately, the jury sided with Paltrow, who was awarded the whopping $1 she sought in her symbolic countersuit.

Where are they now?

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks with retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, left, as she walks out of the courtroom following the reading of the verdict in their lawsuit trial, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

After the judgment, Paltrow said she would not seek attorneys’ fees, and Sanderson would not appeal the verdict, thus ending a protracted seven-year legal battle.

The trial seemingly didn’t slow down the A-list actress, who has been seen over the last few months at film, fashion and Goop events, including the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudia Arabia, which Variety magazine reported she was paid more than $1 million to attend.

Actors portraying Gwyneth Paltrow and Terry Sanderson

Linus Karp as Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Martin as Terry Sanderson in Gwyneth Goes Skiing. (Pleasance Theater)

What about Terry? The 76-year-old retired optometrist told reporters following the verdict that the lawsuit was “absolutely not” worth it. Another reporter pitched it as a possible reality TV show to which Sanderson replied, “I don’t need that.”

While there haven’t been any plans for a reality show announced, a U.K. theater company is running a show called “Gwyneth Goes Skiing: A story of love, betrayal, skiing, and (somehow) Christmas.

“She’s the Goop-founding, Door-Sliding, Shakespeare-In-Loving, consciously-uncoupling Hollywood superstar. He’s a retired Optometrist from Utah. In 2016, they went skiing,” Pleasance Theater shared on its website.

#2: ‘Take Care of Maya’ Trial | Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital 

Maya Kowalski

Photos of Maya Kowalski in 2016 when she was being treated at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (left) Maya Kowalski on the stand testifying in Nov. 2023 (right) (Court TV)

The trial of Maya Kowalski quickly became a fan favorite after millions were introduced to the family’s story in the Netflix documentary, “Take Care of Maya.” The lawsuit, filed by Jack Kowalski, on behalf of his children Maya and Kyle and the estate of his late wife Beata, said Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital “falsely imprisoned” Maya while treating her for a chronic neuropathic disease and inflicted emotional distress that eventually led to her mother’s suicide.

At the trial…

Maya Kowalski had been previously diagnosed with CRPS, or chronic regional pain syndrome by other treating physicians. She ended up at JHACH during a 2016 emergency visit with her mother asking the staff to treat their daughter with large amounts of Ketamine infusion treatments, an uncommon but proven effective treatment the Maya had used in the past. It was at that point that the hospital reported Maya’s mother, Beata, to the DCF Child Abuse Hotline over suspicions of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, now called factitious disorder.  The Kowalski’s lawsuit said the hospital’s treatment of Maya and accusations of child abuse against Beata led her to take her own life in Jan. 2017. The hospital said actions taken by Johns Hopkins were reasonable and in the patient’s best interest.

Who could forget when…

Dr. Sally Smith, who worked for the county’s Child Protection Team, testified that it was her job as a child abuse pediatrician to look through every piece of objective evidence to assess whether she believed there was medical child abuse. Dr. Smith testified for the defense, doubling down on what she called “ample evidence” of medical child abuse to justify covert video surveillance and other methods to prove Maya was exaggerating her symptoms.


Where are they now?

After winning more than $261 million in damages, Maya Kowalski is now filing a criminal complaint against the hospital for an alleged sexual assault that happened while the then 10-year-old girl was in its care. She went to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 10, a day after the other court case wrapped, to swear out the complaint, the family’s attorney, Gregory Anderson, said. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has filed motions seeking a new trial and for the verdict to be thrown out, citing juror misconduct among other issues.

#1: Murdaugh Family Murders Trial | SC v. Alex Murdaugh

In a case that captured the world’s attention, disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh stood accused of fatally shooting his wife Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh, on June 7, 2021. Their bodies were found near the dog kennels on the family’s 1,770-acre estate in South Carolina’s low country.

At the trial…

alex murdaugh appears in court

Alex Murdaugh listens to the defense’s closing argument during his double murder trial. (Court TV)

Murdaugh initially claimed he was at his mother’s home at the time of the shooting, but a SnapChat video recovered from Paul’s cell phone put Alex at the kennels moments before prosecutors claimed the two were brutally murdered. Prosecutors said Murdaugh murdered his wife and son to gain sympathy before years of debt, fraud and financial crimes were exposed.

Who could forget when…

“What a tangled web of lies we weave,” Alex Murdaugh said during the more than two days of testimony when he took the stand and admitted to lying to police about his actions the night of the murders but insisted he did not kill his wife and youngest son.

He testified he last saw Maggie and Paul alive at the kennels before returning to the house, laying down for a few minutes and then leaving to visit his mother.


Where are they now?

Alex currently resides at McCormick Correctional Institution, where he’s serving two life sentences for Paul and Maggie’s murders.  Alex and his defense are actively trying to overturn his double-murder conviction over allegations of jury tampering involving the clerk of court. Murdaugh has also received a 27-year sentence after pleading guilty to dozens of financial crimes spanning several counties in a global plea deal reached two weeks before his first financial crimes trial was set to begin.

Read More: Alex Murdaugh’s crime saga timeline: Murder, fraud, death and betrayal

Which trial was your favorite this year? Let us know @CourtTV on Facebook, X, Instagram or TikTok.

And – don’t forget to check out our biggest trials on the docket in 2024.

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