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Devin MOORE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Birth name: Devin Darnell Thompson
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: June 7, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: May 15, 1985
Victims profile: Officer Arnold Strickland, Officer James Crump, and Ace Mealer, the 911 dispatcher
Method of murder: Shooting (.45 caliber pistol)
Location: Fayette, Alabama, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 9, 2005
 
 

 
 

Devin Moore (born 1985) is a teenager from Alabama who sparked a large controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City when he committed three acts of first-degree murder against three Alabama policemen in 2003.

Moore killed the two policemen and a dispatcher after being booked for committing grand theft auto. According to the Associated Press, when at the police station he said "Life is a video game. You've got to die sometime." He then grabbed the handgun of one of the police officers and shot its owner and two other officers in the head. Afterwards, he drove off in a police car but was later apprehended.

The controversy involving his relation to Grand Theft Auto was revealed during an episode of 60 Minutes in March 2005. In the episode a student demonstrated the Grand Theft Auto games to them, explaining that in one of the games there is a mission that depicts exactly what Moore did: escape a police station, kill officers and escape in a police cruiser.

Moore faced trial in 2005. In August 2005, Moore was convicted as charged and on October 9, 2005 he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Jim Standridge appealed the case.

The families of Moore's victims are taking legal action against Sony, Take-Two Interactive, Wal-Mart and GameStop for their part in the manufacturing and selling of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Jack Thompson was representing families in the suit as an out-of-state attorney on pro hac vice status. His pro hac vice license was revoked by Judge James Moore on November 18, 2005, and he was effectively removed from the case. The judge stated that "Mr. Thompson's actions before this Court suggest that he is unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting practice in this state.


Strickland v. Sony is a court case whose central focus is on whether violent video games played a role in teenager Devin Moore's first-degree murder/shooting of three police officers. In August 2005, former attorney Jack Thompson filed the lawsuit against Sony.

History

Devin Moore was convicted in 2005 for the 2003 shooting of 2 police officers and a dispatcher as he was being detained for allegedly stealing a car. He grabbed one officer's .45 caliber pistol and killed all three before fleeing the station in a police cruiser he stole from the station. He was eventually caught and sentenced to death by lethal injection.

In March 2005, Thompson announced he was filing a lawsuit on behalf of the families of two of the three victims in Fayette, Alabama. He was also featured in a 60 Minutes special on the case.

On August 12, 2005 Thompson officially filed Strickland vs. Sony. The third victim's family later joined the lawsuit.

On Tuesday, November 1, 2005, Thompson sent an email to various websites commenting on the opening day of the civil trial. In it, he compared Sony and Take-Two Interactive's sale of the Grand Theft Auto video game to Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. According to Thompson, certain regional governments in Japan had prevented the sale of the Grand Theft Auto games to minors, though Sony continued to sell the game where its sale was not restricted in Japan and abroad (Microsoft is doing the same for its own video game console). Thompson also compared the distribution of violent games to the distribution of pornography.

On Friday, November 4, 2005, Blank Rome submitted a motion to have Thompson removed from the case, stating that Thompson would "turn the courtroom into a circus."

On November 7, 2005, Thompson withdrew from the case, stating, "It was my idea [to leave the case]." He was quick to mention that the case would probably do well with or without his presence. This decision followed scrutiny from Judge James Moore, however Thompson claimed he received no pressure to withdraw. At the same time, Judge James Moore had taken the motion to revoke Thompson's license under advisement. Jack Thompson appeared in court to defend his right to practice law in Alabama (using Pro Hac Vice), following accusations that he violated legal ethics.

Just before leaving the case, Thompson filed a motion with the court, quoting noted designer Warren Spector (Deus Ex, Thief) as being critical of Rockstar's actions, taken from a speech Spector gave at the Montreal International Game Summit. He even implied that Spector could be served a subpoena to testify, even though the court's jurisdiction did not extend to Spector's place of residence. On November 9, 2005, Spector lashed out at Thompson for taking his comments out of context, saying "Take two or three things, from different contexts, mash them together and you can mislead people pretty dramatically."

Devin Moore

Devin Moore (born Devin Darnell Thompson on 15 May 1985) is a criminal from Alabama who sparked a large controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Moore was apprehended several hours later in Mississippi. According to the Associated Press, after his recapture he said, "Life is a video game. Everybody's got to die sometime." Once in custody, Moore quickly confessed. He told detectives that he shot the men because he didn't want to go to jail.

The controversy involving his relation to Grand Theft Auto was revealed during an episode of 60 Minutes in March 6, 2005. In the episode a student demonstrated Grand Theft Auto to them, showing them the adult nature of the game. Moore, who had recently graduated from high school, had never been in trouble before. He had enlisted in the air force and was due to leave for service at the end of the summer.

Moore faced trial in 2005 and pleaded not guilty. The trial judge barred the defense from introducing evidence to the jury that Grand Theft Auto incited Moore's shooting spree. Moore's attorney, Jim Standridge, contended that Moore was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time of the crimes. Standridge argued that Moore had been emotionally and physically abused by his father as a child.

In August 2005, Moore was convicted as charged and on October 9, 2005 he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Jim Standridge appealed the case.

Alabama license revoked

On November 18, 2005, Judge Moore rejected Thompson's request to withdraw, and instead revoked his Pro Hac Vice admission (a temporary license to practice in a given jurisdiction), in an 18-page decision. Thompson responded with a letter to Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission, questioning Judge Moore's ethics and accusing him of violating the first 3 Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics.

Thompson also claimed the judge had "absolutely no authority" in preventing him from withdrawing from the case, and so therefore the court's decision to kick him off the case was a "legal nullity". He accused the court of punishing him for "aggressively telling the truth" while it "looked the other way when Blank Rome elegantly told those lies."

Judge Moore has also referred this matter to the Alabama State Bar for "appropriate action" remarking among other things: "Mr. Thompson's actions before this Court suggest that he is unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting practice in this state."

On November 21, 2005, Thompson claimed that "We had heard going into this civil case, before it was even filed, that a particular Western Alabama lawyer had to be part of our litigation team or Judge Moore would not give us a fair hearing. This lawyer himself claims, openly, that 'Judge Moore will not allow you to survive summary judgment if I am not on the case.' For too long we have heard swirling around this Judge allegations of improper influence." (sic)

Thompson alluded that the "fixer" was local lawyer Clatus Junkin, although Junkin denied he had any influence over any judges, or that he had made such a comment, as he was "not that dumb [...] or foolish enough to imply that [he] could [influence Judge Moore]." He also declined Thompson's request to join the plaintiffs' team, citing disagreements over Thompson's demands of complete control of any contact with the news media. Judge Moore noted that even though he had banned comments on the case outside the courtroom, Thompson had issued 7 different communications between the start of the case and the day he revoked Thompson's Pro Hac Vice.

After being thrown off the case, Thompson requested that Judge Moore recuse himself from the case. Moore ignored him, stating "I can’t consider it because he’s no longer practicing in the state of Alabama. If some other lawyer in the case asks me to recuse myself, I’ll consider it in court."

On December 13, 2005, Thompson announced that he will be "assisting plaintiffs’ counsel during the discovery process and in the courtroom at trial" when the civil trial begins in 2006 (the judge ruled on both Thompson's dismissal from the case, and dismissal of the case itself, during pretrial hearings). He also claimed he "will likely be a witness in the case." Although he gave no details as to what he would be a witness to, except that he claimed he had "warned, in writing," Take-Two and Rockstar Games "that murders such as those in Alabama would occur by teens who had rehearsed the murders on their virtual reality killing simulators."

It should be noted though, that Judge Moore forbade Thompson from "[communicating] with the court or the judge" or he "would be held in contempt of court." While that order was appealed, it has not yet been ruled on.

On February 16, 2006, Thompson sent a letter to the Alabama Bar, accusing Judge Moore of breaking the bar rules by publicly disclosing that he had filed a complaint about Thompson with the Alabama Bar. He accused Judge Moore of denying Devin Moore a fair trial, and claimed the FBI was investigating the Florida Bar's "disciplinary process". Thompson gave the Alabama Bar until "five o’clock p.m., Eastern time, February 17, 2006" to drop the complaint, or else he would file a "federal lawsuit in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida on Monday, February 20, 2006."

The Alabama State Bar rules state that a court official who revokes Pro Hac Vice due to conduct must refer the matter to the Bar for review, and the Bar decides if an investigation is needed. No complaint is required to open an investigation.

Thompson's deadline of February 17 passed, without action from either party.

On February 22, 2006, Thompson followed up with another letter, announcing that he had filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Bar, for investigating a complaint " which in fact was not even filed" in "violation of its own Bar Rules."

The Alabama Bar has not yet been served notice with any complaint from Thompson, nor has any Florida court acknowledged a civil suit being filed.

Thompson announced that the Strickland v. Sony plaintiffs were still his clients, and vowed to represent them in-court when the trial resumes.

On October 9, 2007, Thompson filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Bar with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case has been assigned to the same judge who has had previously presided over attempts by Thompson to sue the Florida Bar, which were voluntarily withdrawn. Thompson claimed that his rights of "speech, petition, and religion" were violated when his Pro Hac Vice status was revoked.

Dismissal Appeal Denied

On March 29, 2006, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld Judge Moore's ruling against the dismissal of the case. Law firm Blank-Rome, representing the defendants, had previously attempted to have the suit dismissed during the pre-trial since it argued that the defendants had a right under the 1st Amendment to sell mature games to minors. At the time of the sale, there was no law preventing such a sale. Thompson called the ruling "exciting" because "no one has ever before survived a motion to dismiss." At the same time, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments as to whether the Fayette County Court had the jurisdiction to preside over the case at all.

Wikipedia.org


Grand Theft Auto Kills Three, Steals Car

By Lee Stein - Devhardware.com

August 29, 2005

In a world where you can sue McDonalds for making you fat, you can sue the makers of Grand Theft Auto for training someone to be a professional killer. The makers and marketers of Grand Theft Auto are being sued in civil court over the murder of three men in the town of Fayette, Alabama.

Eighteen-year-old Devin Moore gunned down these men, two of which were police officers and the third being a 911 dispatcher.

According to Attorney Jack Thompson, an anti-gaming violence advocate, Grand Theft Auto “trained” Devin Moore to do what he did. Grand Theft Auto is a “Murder Simulator.”

Let’s recap what happened on June 7th 2003 that led to this crime being committed.

Devin Moore was brought into the police station that day on suspicion of stealing a car. He had no criminal history and was supposedly cooperative as Officer Arnold Strickland booked him inside the Fayette police station.

According to Moore’s own statement, he lunged at Officer Strickland, grabbing his .40 caliber Glock automatic and shot twice, with one shot hitting the officer’s head. Officer James Crump responded to the shots and met Moore in the hallway. Moore fired three shots, one hitting the head.

Moore made his way down the hallway toward the door of the emergency dispatcher. He turned and fired five shots into Ace Mealer, the 911 dispatcher. For the third straight time, Devin Moore, a person with no criminal history, was able to land a head shot.

He left the station by stealing a police cruiser.

I'm Sorry, Officer. GTA Ate My Brain.

"The video game industry gave him a cranial menu that popped up in the blink of an eye, in that police station," says Thompson. "And that menu offered him the split-second decision to kill the officers, shoot them in the head, flee in a police car, just as the game itself trained them to do."

After his capture, Moore is reported to have told police, "Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime."

Or, quite simply, Grand Theft Auto ate his brain.

That’s right. He played one too many games of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (that edition is mentioned specifically as it contains a mission in which you infiltrate a police station, kill officers, and steal a police vehicle), which hard wired him to act this way. It inspired him to steal a car. It inspired him to resist the police. It inspired him to murder. It inspired him to grab the officers gun and proceed to “reenact” scenes from the game.

And monkeys might fly out of my butt

Well that was a bit harsh on my part, but let’s be honest here. If a person is obviously unglued from reality, you don’t blame one of their forms of entertainment for causing this disconnect. It’s like blaming a sneeze for the cold.

There is no doubt that movies, television, books, music, comic books, and even video games can influence people. The other day the AFI most memorable movie quotes played on television, showcasing all the little lines of thought and humor that have integrated themselves into our culture.

We all remember kids lighting themselves on fire ala MTV’s Jackass, which came after kids playing with fire ala MTV’s Bevis and Butthead. Jennifer Anniston changed her hair and sent the women of this country to the beauty salons. The swing dancing GAP commercial kick started a swing-dancing craze that lasted for about a month, but it was responsible nonetheless. Books and music change people’s perspectives and can define a generation. You get a nice warning label when you buy a superhero Halloween outfit that says “Does not grant the ability to fly”.

But I guess my point is this. It is one thing to say that our various forms of entertainment can influence our lives in some ways, but it’s another to say that they are solely or mostly responsible for causing us to act in a certain way.

I Guess It's Fate

Truth is, despite the fact that we might have been shepherded in a certain direction, many of the same things that I mentioned above would have happened anyway. People have been parroting quotes from books and stage plays long before movies. Young children have been doing stupid and foolish things for all time, and will continue to do so with or without MTV. Women are always looking for the inspiration and the means to change their appearance. The desire to get out of the house and dance was always there among the populace, and the GAP commercial just gave some people an excuse. The underlying social tensions were always there during the 60’s and 70’s. Lennon’s music just expressed it more eloquently then anyone before him.

And people always grow up thinking they are invulnerable, with or without a big red S to wear on their chests.

So video games aren’t going to “re-program” someone to act out violently or not. Those impulses were probably already there, hence his desire to play GTA as often as he did. Trust me, Bassmaster 5000 isn’t causing people to run and go fishing anytime soon. The people who play those games already liked to fish. It didn’t brainwash anyone. And while we all might have violent impulses within us, almost all of us have the self-restraint to not act out on them.

Brain research shows that the brain of a teenager isn’t fully developed in the centers controlling things like “impulse decision.” While this may be another factor in the murder, an “impulse” is something along the lines of buying a candy bar in the checkout isle of the supermarket, not stealing cars, murdering two police officers and a 911 dispatcher.

And we are not talking about a 12-year-old boy named Lionel Tate. We are talking about an 18 year old man, a person considered an adult by almost every measure we use to size up these types of things. And even if we were talking about a 12-year-old boy, the same questions come up.

Where were the parents? Did he even have parents growing up? What of his teachers? Didn’t he have a mentor figure to go to for advice, or impart some wisdom sometime in the kids 18 years of button mashing? Didn’t anyone teach him right or wrong, in church school or otherwise? What of his friends and peers?

If GTA is responsible in any way for Devin Moors actions, then these people also share the responsibility. Quite frankly, they share more of it that a simple video game.

My .40 Caliber PS2

After all, there are thousands of people, teenagers included, who play these games and do not act out in violent ways. I myself am a fan of violence in games, a.k.a. “murder simulators.” However, the only law that I have ever knowingly broken has been removing the tag from my mattress that says “Warning, do not remove under penalty of arrest.” That and several speeding tickets that we will never speak of again.

Not every kid out there who plays a violent video game will turn violent, but some do. The logic that sensors games is the same panic-stricken logic that we now hear post Columbine High School, “Not every kid who listens to Marylyn Manson will shoot up his school, but some do”.

This is specious reasoning if I have ever seen it. Quite frankly, it just doesn’t hold water.

But that, my friends, is not where Attorney Jack Thompson’s argument falls to pieces. No, simple logic dictates that Playstation 2 does not teach a person how to fire a gun, let alone a .40 caliber glock automatic pistol, let alone practice killing in the preferred method of two shots to the center mass and one to the head.

So how do you explain that Devin Moore was able to kill three people in an extremely professional manner? You kill a character on Playstation 2 by pressing a button. Devin Moore did it as if he had been trained. And no reasonable person is going to believe that button mashing on Playstation 2 can train you to be a marksmen. All button mashing will do is give you nasty blisters and a minor case of carpel tunnel syndrome. Criminal record or no, this person had obviously handled a gun before. He obviously knew how to shoot one. The real question is when did he do it, where did he do it, and for what purpose. Those are the real question the jurors in the case should be asking.

So, in the end, should we buy into the prosecution’s case? This seemingly innocent kid just snapped, killed three people like a professional killer, stole a police cruiser, and did it all because murder simulators ate his brain.

If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you in Vice City.


Teen Charged In Ala. Cops Shooting

Suspect Allegedly Shot Two Officers, Dispatcher While Being Arrested

FAYETTE, Ala., June 9, 2003

(AP) A teenager was charged Monday with three counts of murder for allegedly shooting two police officers and a dispatcher, then fleeing in a cruiser, as they tried to book him for car theft.

Devin Moore, 18, was captured nearly four hours later after shooting the three Saturday in this rural community of about 5,000 people. He remained in jail without bond and faces a possible death penalty if convicted.

Moore, who had just graduated from high school and was about to join the Air Force, allegedly took one of the officer's guns, shot all three at the Fayette police station and fled, prosecutors said. He was captured in Mississippi, about 12 miles west of the Alabama line.

A public defender for Moore had not yet been assigned.

Moore's father, 48-year-old Kenneth Moore, said after the hearing that had trouble disciplining his son for years and that his son deserved to be charged with capital murder.

"You live by the sword you die by it, that's the Bible," said Moore's father, 48-year-old Kenneth Moore. "God works in mysterious ways."

Officer Arnold Strickland, in his mid-50s, Cpl. James Crump, 40, and dispatcher Leslie Mealer, 40, were shot and killed.

 


Can A Video Game Lead To Murder?

March 6, 2005

(CBS) Imagine if the entertainment industry created a video game in which you could decapitate police officers, kill them with a sniper rifle, massacre them with a chainsaw, and set them on fire.

Think anyone would buy such a violent game?

They would, and they have. The game Grand Theft Auto has sold more than 35 million copies, with worldwide sales approaching $2 billion.

Two weeks ago, a multi-million dollar lawsuit was filed in Alabama against the makers and marketers of Grand Theft Auto, claiming that months of playing the game led a teenager to go on a rampage and kill three men, two of them police officers.

Can a video game train someone to kill?

Grand Theft Auto is a world governed by the laws of depravity. See a car you like? Steal it. Someone you don't like? Stomp her. A cop in your way? Blow him away.

There are police at every turn, and endless opportunities to take them down. It is 360 degrees of murder and mayhem: slickly produced, technologically brilliant, and exceedingly violent.

And now, the game is at the center of a civil lawsuit involving the murders of three men in the small town of Fayette, Ala. They were gunned down by 18-year-old Devin Moore, who had played Grand Theft Auto day and night for months.

Attorney Jack Thompson, a long-time crusader against video-game violence, is bringing the suit. "What we're saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator," says Thompson.

"He bought it as a minor. He played it hundreds of hours, which is primarily a cop-killing game. It's our theory, which we think we can prove to a jury in Alabama, that, but for the video-game training, he would not have done what he did."

Moore’s victims were Ace Mealer, a 911 dispatcher; James Crump, a police officer; and Arnold Strickland, another officer who was on patrol in the early morning hours of June 7, 2003, when he brought in Moore on suspicion of stealing a car.

Moore had no criminal history, and was cooperative as Strickland booked him inside the Fayette police station. Then suddenly, inexplicably, Moore snapped.

According to Moore's own statement, he lunged at Officer Arnold Strickland, grabbing his .40-caliber Glock automatic and shot Strickland twice, once in the head. Officer James Crump heard the shots and came running. Moore met him in the hallway, and fired three shots into Crump, one of them in the head.

Moore kept walking down the hallway towards the door of the emergency dispatcher. There, he turned and fired five shots into Ace Mealer. Again, one of those shots was in the head. Along the way, Moore had grabbed a set of car keys. He went out the door to the parking lot, jumped into a police cruiser, and took off. It all took less than a minute, and three men were dead.

"The video game industry gave him a cranial menu that popped up in the blink of an eye, in that police station," says Thompson. "And that menu offered him the split-second decision to kill the officers, shoot them in the head, flee in a police car, just as the game itself trained them to do."

After his capture, Moore is reported to have told police, "Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime." Moore is awaiting trial in criminal court. A suit filed by the families of two of his victims claims that Moore acted out a scenario found in Grand Theft Auto: The player is a street thug trying to take over the city. In one scenario, the player can enter a police precinct, steal a uniform, free a convict from jail, escape by shooting police, and flee in a squad car.

"I've now got the entire police force after me. So you have to eliminate all resistance," says Nicholas Hamner, a law student at the University of Alabama, who demonstrated Grand Theft Auto for 60 Minutes. Like millions of gamers, the overwhelming majority, he says he plays it simply for fun.

David Walsh, a child psychologist who’s co-authored a study connecting violent video games to physical aggression, says the link can be explained in part by pioneering brain research recently done at the National Institutes of Health -- which shows that the teenage brain is not fully developed.

Does repeated exposure to violent video games have more of an impact on a teenager than it does on an adult?

"It does. And that's largely because the teenage brain is different from the adult brain. The impulse control center of the brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead, consider consequences, manage urges -- that's the part of the brain right behind our forehead called the prefrontal cortex," says Walsh. "That's under construction during the teenage years. In fact, the wiring of that is not completed until the early 20s."

Walsh says this diminished impulse control becomes heightened in a person who has additional risk factors for criminal behavior. Moore had a profoundly troubled upbringing, bouncing back and forth between a broken home and a handful of foster families.

"And so when a young man with a developing brain, already angry, spends hours and hours and hours rehearsing violent acts, and then, and he's put in this situation of emotional stress, there's a likelihood that he will literally go to that familiar pattern that's been wired repeatedly, perhaps thousands and thousands of times," says Walsh.

"You've got probably millions of kids out there playing violent games like Grand Theft Auto and other violent games, who never hurt a fly," says Bradley. "So what does that do to your theory?"

"You know, not every kid that plays a violent video game is gonna turn to violence. And that's because they don't have all of those other risk factors going on," says Walsh. "It's a combination of risk factors, which come together in a tragic outcome."

Arnold Strickland had been a police officer for 25 years when he was murdered. His brother Steve, a Methodist minister, wants the video game industry to pay.

"Why does it have to come to a point to where somebody's life has to be taken before they realize that these games have repercussions to them? Why does it have to be to where my brother's not here anymore," says Steve Strickland. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him."

Strickland, along with Mealer's parents, are suing Moore, as well as Wal-Mart and GameStop, which sold Moore two versions of Grand Theft Auto. Both companies sent us letters insisting they bear no responsibility for Moore’s actions, and that the game is played by millions of law-abiding citizens.

Take-Two Interactive, the creator of Grand Theft Auto, and Sony, which makes the device that runs the game, are also being sued. Both declined to talk to 60 Minutes on camera. Instead, they referred it to Doug Lowenstein, who represents the video game industry.

Lowenstein is not named in the lawsuit, and says he can’t comment on it directly. "It's not my job to defend individual titles," says Lowenstein. "My job is to defend the right of people in this industry to create the products that they want to create. That's free expression."

"A police officer we spoke to said, 'Our job is dangerous enough as it is without having our kids growing up playing those games and having the preconceived notions of "let's kill an officer." It's almost like putting a target on us.' Can you see his point?" asks Bradley.

"Look, I have great respect for the law enforcement officers of this country.... I don't think video games inspire people to commit crimes," says Lowenstein. "If people have a criminal mind, it's not because they're getting their ideas from the video games. There's something much more deeply wrong with the individual. And it's not the game that's the problem."

But shouldn't Moore, alone, face the consequences of his decision to kill three men?

"There's plenty of blame to go around. The fact is we think Devin Moore is responsible for what he did," says Thompson. "But we think that the adults who created these games and in effect programmed Devon Moore and assisted him to kill are responsible at least civilly.

Thompson says video game companies had reason to foresee that some of their products would trigger violence, and bolsters his case with claims that the murders in Fayette were not the first thought to be inspired by Grand Theft Auto.

In Oakland, Calif., detectives said the game provoked a street gang accused of robbing and killing six people. In Newport, Tenn., two teenagers told police the game was an influence when they shot at passing cars with a .22 caliber rifle, killing one person. But to date, not a single court case has acknowledged a link between virtual violence and the real thing.

Paul Smith is a First Amendment lawyer who has represented video game companies. "What you have in almost every generation is the new medium that comes along. And it's subject of almost a hysterical attack," says Smith. "If you went back to the 1950s, it's hard to believe now, but comic books were blamed for juvenile delinquency. And I think what you really have here is very much the same phenomenon playing itself out again with a new medium."

Why does he think the courts have ruled against these kinds of lawsuits?

"If you start saying that we're going to sue people because one individual out there read their book or played their game and decided to become a criminal, there is no stopping point," says Smith. "It's a huge new swath of censorship that will be imposed on the media."

Despite its violence, or because of it, the fact is that millions of people like playing Grand Theft Auto. Steve Strickland can’t understand why.

"The question I have to ask the manufacturers of them is, 'Why do you make games that target people that are to protect us, police officers, people that we look up to -- people that I respect -- with high admiration,'" says Strickland.

"'Why do you want to market a game that gives people the thoughts, even the thoughts of thinking it's OK to shoot police officers? Why do you wanna do that?'"

Both Wal-Mart and GameStop, where Moore purchased Grand Theft Auto, say they voluntarily card teenagers in an effort to keep violent games from underage kids. But several states are considering laws that would ban the sale of violent games to those under 17.

 


Judge sentences gamer to death

20-year-old who used Grand Theft Auto as defense for triple homicide sentenced to lethal injection.

By Tim Surette, GameSpot

Oct 7, 2005

Earlier this year, Devin Moore, now 20, was on trial for the 2003 triple homicide of three Alabama policemen. While in detention for stealing a car, Moore grabbed the pistol of one officer and used it to fatally shoot a total of three of them.

The defense mounted a case based on a childhood full of mental and physical abuse, as well as an affinity for violent games. One game in particular, Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto III, was singled out, because gamers can steal cars and kill cops in it. Moore had said he was inspired by the PlayStation 2 game.

In August, a jury swiftly convicted Moore of the charges. And today, a judge laid down the most severe punishment the justice system allows.

Moore will be put to death by lethal injection. Defense attorney Jim Standridge will appeal the case.

The victims' families have sued Take-Two Interactive (parent company of Rockstar), Sony, Wal-Mart, and GameStop for their parts in the manufacturing and selling of the game.

 



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