A state appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction and death sentence of
Devin Darnell Thompson, who claimed he killed three Fayette police employees
partly because he repeatedly played the violent video game "Grand Theft Auto."
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction in a 5-0 opinion,
rejecting his claims that the trial judge erred in not allowing 2 mental health
experts to testify that his behavior was influenced by the video game, which
includes players stealing automobiles.
Defense attorneys had wanted to present the testimony of a psychiatrist and a
clinical psychologist that Thompson "reverted to the scripted behavior he
learned through years of almost daily prolonged and repetitive video game
Thompson was convicted in the June 3, 2003, shooting deaths of Fayette police
officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump and radio dispatcher Leslie "Ace"
Mealer. The shootings occurred at about 6 a.m. as Thompson was being booked
into the jail at the Fayette police station on a stolen auto charge.
Trial records show that Thompson grabbed Strickland's gun and started shooting.
As Thompson was leaving he stopped at the fire department located in the same
building, and told firefighters that "something bad" had happened at the police
offices. Thompson then stole a police cruiser and was arrested later that day
in Columbus, Miss.
The appeals court also rejected the claims from Thompson, who is black, that he
was convicted by a all-white jury after blacks were eliminated from the pool of
potential jurors. Prosecutors had argued there were few blacks in the pool in
the mostly white county and that the blacks eliminated from the jury pool had
either said they were opposed to the death penalty or knew Thompson or his
The appellate judges also rejected Thompson's claim that the trial should have
been moved from Fayette County because of the large amount of publicity the
killing received in the area.
Thompson also argued it was cruel and unusual punishment to sentence him to
death because he was 18 at the time of the killings.
The appeals court ruled that Thompson's sentence was consistent with other
appellate court rulings finding that 18-year-olds can be sentenced to die.
(source: Associated Press)