Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Relatives of Posey's Victims Say Video Game Helped Turn Teenager Into a Killer
By Rene Romo
Journal Southern Bureau
LAS CRUCES Relatives of three people teenager Cody Posey killed in Lincoln County in July 2004 filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday against Posey and makers of a violent video game they claim stoked the boy's violent behavior.
"A video game may not, by itself, cause a teen or another individual to kill," says the civil lawsuit filed in state District Court in Albuquerque, "but it can provide an indispensable or final link in a causal chain that results in tragedy."
The suit says Posey, then 14, "obsessively played" Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.'s video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, on a Sony PlayStation 2 platform in the period leading up to the killings.
The suit repeatedly refers to violence-filled video games such as Grand Theft Auto as "virtual reality murder simulators," and says such games desensitize children to acts of violence and trains them to kill.
The suit was filed on behalf of Texas resident Verlin Posey, brother of Delbert Posey, Cody's father, and Sierra County resident Pat Basham, father of Cody's stepmother, Tryone Posey, and grandfather to Cody Posey's stepsister, Marilea Schmid. Cody Posey was convicted of killing his three family members with shots to the head on the Hondo Valley ranch of ABC newsman Sam Donaldson where the family worked and lived.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Cody Posey; Sony Corp. of America; Take-Two and its subsidiary Rockstar Games.
Florida attorney Jack Thompson, who has crusaded against makers of violent video games across the country for years, said the lawsuit's primary target is the video-game manufacturers.
"Our goal is to punish them so severely that they will stop marketing this game to kids,"' Thompson said. "They market them for kids; they assure parents as well as kids through various lobbyists that games are not harmful to kids. That is not true."
Basham, 68, said the plaintiffs were not interested in the monetary damages they might reap, but in reducing the threat of harm to other families.
"If we can get this game off the market, this kind of thing won't happen to other people like happened to us," Basham said.
Representatives of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Take-Two spokesman Jim Ankner said it was premature to comment, because company officials had not received the lawsuit.
Thompson was encouraged to pursue the civil suit by senior prosecutor Sandra Grisham, who tried Posey early this year in Alamogordo. Grisham portrayed the boy as a "coldblooded killer" and sought an adult sentence, but the boy was given a juvenile sentence and ordered held until 21 while receiving therapy.
Gary Mitchell, Posey's criminal defense attorney, said Thompson contacted him "numerous times" before the trial, urging Mitchell to highlight Grand Theft Auto in Posey's defense. "I just didn't find it had any merit whatsoever," Mitchell said.