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Grand Theft Auto player gets death penalty

The price of not being under the influence
Fri Aug 12 2005, 15:37
TEEN MURDERERr Devin Moore was sentenced to death yesterday for killing three police officers as he tried to escape from custody.

While in the history of US criminal law there is nothing unusual about this, Moore's case has attracted a lot of attention because he claimed to be under the influence of the violent game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In fact he seemed to have been inventing this alibi the moment he was caught saying the words “Life is a video game, you have to die sometime.”

Ironically, Moore's defence is backed by the families of those people he killed. They are currently trying to sue the makers and distributors of the game, Rock Star saying it was somehow involved in the murders.

While the families welcomed the verdict yesterday, it actually will cause problems for their case that GTA is a murder simulator that inspired the young Moore to kill.

If Moore was under the influence of GTA, then he must be seen as mentally defective and therefore require treatment rather than the death penalty. It does not seem that the jury bought this concept, in fact they only took an hour to make up their minds of his guilt, which legal terms is about the length of time it took to sit down and vote on it.

It is clear that they saw the deaths of Police Officer Strickland, Officer Crump, and Dispatcher Mealer as the act of a desperate kid who knew what he was doing and why.

According to a statement from the families they are not saying that Moore was not responsible for what he did. They say that there is a lot of blame to go around. This is why they are suing Sony, Take-Two/Rockstar, Wal-Mart, and GameStop.

A cynic would think that the question is who should pay for the deaths of these three. Moore is going to be killed by the State, he can't really pay much more and these companies seem to have enough money.

While a court is usually incredibly sympathetic to families in such cases, there are long histories of similar cases that have gone belly up. The case of the teen that shot himself after listening to Judas Priest because of what his family claimed were subliminal messages to “do it” played backwards, springs to mind. However if, as the family says, the issue is one of blame then why must it fall on the door of the makers of a game the bloke played.

What about his family? The jury heard how Moore had been abused as a child. What were the other elements that made up his upbringing? Social services, who failed to spot the guy was about to go over the edge. What about the police station that allows loaded firearms to be carried around while people are being interviewed?

It seems that if blame for creating a teen mass-murderer has to be shared by anyone, it is not just those who made up the game. It seems that the families have gone for a media byte-sized target?

Is it so impossible to believe that a kid, with a history of abuse, who is arrested on suspicion of nicking a car, will not snap? µ


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