The Alabama Court of Criminal appeals on Friday upheld the capital murder
conviction and death sentence given a man who said the violent video “Grand
Theft Auto” made him kill 3 Fayette Police Department employees.
The court in a 5-0 vote said Devin Darnell Thompson, who was known as Devin
Moore, received a fair trial. “After such an independent weighing (of the
case), we are convinced that the death penalty was the appropriate sentence in
this case,” Judge Michael Joiner wrote.
Thompson’s case spawned a lawsuit filed against the Sony Corp., retailers and
publishers on behalf of family members of 2 of the police officers. The case
was profiled on “60 Minutes.”
Thompson was convicted of killing officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump
and dispatcher Leslie “Ace” Mealer while he was being booked on June 3, 2003.
The jury by a 10-2 margin recommended Thompson’s execution, and the trial judge
sentenced him to die.
His novel defense that he wasn’t responsible for the triple homicide because of
repeated viewings of “Grand Theft Auto” began a nationwide debate about video
The Associated Press reported that after he was caught in Mississippi, Thompson
said, “Life is a video game. Everybody’s got to die some time.”
According to the record, Thompson, who was 18 at the time, was asleep in a
reported stolen vehicle and was brought to police headquarters for questioning
by Strickland and Crump.
Thompson confessed that when one of the officers told him he could be sentenced
to prison for a few years, he “freaked out.”
“But things didn’t go as planned,” Thompson confessed. “But after I got his
pistol, (Strickland) started screaming and I freaked out and started shooting.”
He confessed that he then shot Crump and Mealer, stole a police car and drove
to Mississippi. He was arrested near Columbus, and Strickland’s .40-caliber
pistol was in the car.
At his trial, he presented expert testimony that he suffered from
post-traumatic stress disorder at the time. The state presented opposite expert
In his appeal, which was automatic because it is a death penalty case, Thompson
argued that he didn’t get a fair trial because he was tried in Fayette County,
where pre-trial publicity prohibited selection of an unbiased jury.
Joiner said there was no evidence presented to support the motion for a change
“The (jury) examination shows that numerous individuals in the jury pool had
heard about the case, but those that had a fixed opinion were struck for
cause,” Joiner said.
“Other jurors indicated that they could set aside their opinions and render a
fair decision based on the evidence presented in the case.”
Thompson’s case will automatically be appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court and
can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(source: Gadsden Times)