“Video Games Made Me Do It” Defense Fails in Oregon Murder Trial

Last week GamePolitics reported on an Oregon man’s bid to use violent video games as a defense against murder charges. So how did that work out?

Not so well.

As reported by the Associated Press, 19-year-old Patrick Morris was found guilty of the 2006 shotgun murder of a 15-year-old boy. According to the AP:

Defense attorney Robert Abel said violent video games, a history of emotional and behavior disorders and the use of mind-altering mushrooms affected his client…

His mother, Irma Espitia, told the judge her story about a troubled son, whom she tried to reach out to over and over. “He would just go into his room and play those video games,” she said.

The prosecution’s expert witness, Dr. Michael Knapp of Ashland, said it was ridiculous to blame video games. Moreover, he said, while you usually can’t predict violent behavior, other risk factors in Morris’ life, such as his drug use and his emotional disorders, were stronger factors.

Klamath County Judge Marci Adkisson apparently wasn’t buying the video game defense. After deliberating for 30 minutes she sentenced Morris to life in prison.

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  1. 0
    Mike says:

    Hey guys, I grew up in Klamath Falls. The video game defense is doomed to fail there. What kids do for fun there, especially kids like the one in this article, drink, have sex,do drugs(pot, shrooms and ex, meth) and skip school. Hell, ask anyone my age (25) about the ‘401 House’ before the last big teen killing…and Believe it or not, this isn’t the first drug related teen killing either.

    Just the sad reality that some parents are pieces of crap and troubled youth.

  2. 0
    voodooKobra ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I love how people blame cheap forms of entertainment for their actions. Because we all know that mass-produced, carbon-copied pieces of software have mind control capabilities and specifically tell kids to do harm to specific family members, right? Lock the brat up and throw away the key.

  3. 0
    aniki21 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I hope Dr. Michael Knapp gets called as an expert witness in a couple more cases. He seems like he’s got his head screwed on, which is more than can be said for most of the “expert” nutjobs JBT&Co call.

  4. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Cue the civil suit in 3…2…1.

    After all, it wasn’t the mental, verbal, physical, and attempted sexual abuse in the Cody Posey case.

    It wasn’t the Nazi stuff in his room that had an influence or the alleged relationship with the woman he shot that led Robida to the assault in the bar, the murder of the woman, and his own suicide.

    Or all the issues that Eric and Dylan themselves had going on, as has been reported, finally, time and again.

    No, all that matter was that they played violent video games. It’s the games fault and the industry’s fault.

    And just in case you didn’t get it, I was being sarcastic.

    NW2K Software

  5. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    what a great lesson to teach your kid lady, make excuses for your actions and deny responsibilty for them. no wonder your kid is fucked up.

  6. 0
    chuma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I wonder if it was the Defense attorney or Patrick Morris who thought of this nutjob defense. Really have to wonder who was the one who had been on drugs when they agreed this was his best chance in court…

  7. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You know, I honestly didn’t see that coming. The video games defense seems to work out for the defendant, it’s nice to see that someone didn’t buy this load.

  8. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    the thing is though, is that while his attorney argued for this motive/reason its understandable because he is a defence attorney and thats what defence attorneys do, lie, exxagerate, exploit technicallities in any way possible to get their clients off, so its not unusual for a theory like this to be used by his lawyer, but his mother on the other hand is a completely different case, she is actually going along with it too, which IS unusal at least imo becasue as a parent i would expect my child to own up to his mistakes and face them like a responsible person could, instead she is actually teaching her kid by playing along with the lawyers argument that its not his fault, even if he is guilty.

    and even if videogames or media DO cause violent behavior, it doesnt change the fact that you are in control of you own body and mind and you are in control of what influences and ideas you accept or reject. this whole issue on media violence and their effects center around this point im making, people of authority are teaching younger people that they are more intrested in so-called “influences” as opposed to the individual themselves.

    this lady( not his lawyer though, its what they do again) is trying to bullshit her way into the law as an attempt to get the blame directed towards something other than her son. even if it was the lawyers idea for a motive to present as defence, the sole fact that she is going along with it is just mindnumbing. defence lawyers literally lie their way through trials and exploit everyloop hole in the system even if it isnt ethical.

    its absolute insanity that a parent of all things would actually be showing their kids how to weasel their way out of trouble. these people need to start teaching their kids or whatever that they should admit their mistakes and attempt to correct them rather than making excuses for their mistakes and deny their involvement.

  9. 0
    monte' ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Since when?
    While the media loves to sensationalize such things and blame video games, the courts are different. In each case that i recall where video games were brought up as a factor, the prosticutions expert and the judge pretty much ended up debunking/ignoring it as a factor choosing to look at the actual evidence to what was horribly wrong with the defendent. Even in that case down in alabama, video games were not ruled as much of a factor during the criminal trail… the only place where those games are attacked is during the civil suit filed afterward; and the only reason that is, is because the suit was filed directly against the industry… and Just because the judge didn’t throw that case out right away doesn’t mean much accept that he’s willing to hear the case, nothing more.

  10. 0
    Phrogg says:

    Glad to hear it got shot down.

    What’s wrong with people? This “mother” couldn’t have been reaching out very hard. Because when i didn’t get a message, my parents reached out, alright. They reached out and slapped me upside the head.

    Kid locked himself in his room?
    Kid was doing drugs?
    Kid HAD A SHOTGUN (and doesn’t hunt)??
    All warning signs that it’s time to stop “reaching out” and snap back across his head.

    I swear, that’s the biggest thing wrong with parents today…they don’t know when it’s necessary to beat some sense into their offspring.

  11. 0
    AgonThalia ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Phrogg said: “they don’t know when it’s necessary to beat some sense into their offspring.”

    Respectfully, I disagree with your assertion. While there is absolutely a place for discipline, beating does nothing good. I have a child, and when he screws up, he gets disciplined. He knows right from wrong, he knows what will elicit a disciplinary response. However, “beating some sense into him” only tends to show them that you can resolve issues with violence.

    Now, I love video games, violent ones too, so I’m not excusing the behavior, but I would imagine that for a kid who struck out so violently, probably had at some point, violence visited upon him.

    It’s easy for parents to have technology babysit, it’s easy not to take kids to the park and play with them, its easy to sit them in front of the TV, video game or whatever. I’m sure the parent tried, but simply put, some kids are just screwed up and hard-wired wrong.

    Check out the article from Penny Arcade called “A Rare Opportunity” http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/02/21 blaming the parents is also an easy cop out and diversion from the video game argument. There is rarely a single causal event that causes kids to be violent.

    Some people say “blame video games”
    Other people say “blame the parents”

    This is nothing more than an either-or logical fallacy. It could be both, it could be neither. It could be biological, it could be how he was raised. Without knowing the details of the case, it’s difficult to determine the outright causes… but again, it’s easy to blame a singular activity that can explain it all. Sometimes, the easy answer isn’t the right answer.

  12. 0
    Ben Payne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, raise your hand if you saw this coming. *raise* I mean seriously, who would have thought that they guy who shot a 15 year old with a shotgun over a bum drug deal wasn’t going to be able to blame video games. Maybe if he was wearing a Mario costume, and jumping on people heads, claiming “THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM IS UNDER ATTACK! I MUST SAVE THE PRINCESS!!!”, then he could use that whole insanity plea…

  13. 0
    MrKenyon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    …wait, did I talk about JT in an article not related to him? *groan* Dammit. Sorry, it’s early in the morning, but I should know better.

  14. 0
    MrKenyon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Y’know, I’d pay to see that, Ben…

    It’s always good to hear that our justice system still has a little common sense in some places. Unlike the others around here, I really was surprised to hear the news. With the way video games are demonized in the media, I can see the judge seriously contemplating it. Glad to see she knew better.

    I’m also truly surprised I haven’t heard Mr. Miami tripping over himself to represent the defendant in a civil suit. On the other hand, I’m sure it’s a bit soon.

  15. 0
    Robb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    In the article: “…other risk factors in Morris’ life, such as his drug use and his emotional disorders, were stronger factors.”

    So the drugs and the emotional problems were more responsible for molding his behavior. Trying using those things as an excuse for murder and you’ll get laughed out of court with a guilty. This is because aside from insanity (the kind where you don’t take a gun to a rumble), everything else involves a choice.

    There is a really good “insider” story on Penny Arcade from the stepmother. Here’s the deal: some kids are just bad. Ask a few parents if they’ve ever had a defiant kid from day 1. Also, bad upbringing isn’t an excuse when you’re and adult. He was a legal adult at 19. That means it was no longer his parents’ problem, even if he did live with them.

  16. 0
    wrench115 says:

    I can not believe noone here will accept the video game that led to this poor boys downfall…..SUPER MARIO BROS. This poor kid learned that in the game mushrooms cause you to become stronger, and give you extra lives.


  17. 0
    Siftr says:

    how to parent

    1. teach you child about rules, laws, and morals.

    2. punish your child if he disobeys

    3. if the child ignores you, punish him.

    Suitable punishments:
    1. take away videogames
    2. take away child’s entertainment.

  18. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    a little off topic but prosecutors ALSO lie and exploit the law as well, just look at the D.A. in charge of the duke lacrosse team case (which is an unacceptable disgrace to the state i love).

  19. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    They are the mind-altering mushrooms used in mario games. Dam them drug peddling satans making the kids crack heads after playing their games.

  20. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Someone said something about beating somewhere….while corpal punishment can be a teaching aid once they get past 13 or so and become their own willful being theres no much you can do if they have lost all respect for you(parent) and your word.

    On that note what do you do when you cant kick them out and the police cant take them in and you don’t have money to “send them away”?

    when a teen goes bad theres really not allot you can do,because the police will only look at it half the time and in a rare instance haul them off for being a danger to everything that moves.

  21. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Good news for our side! In this war of attrition, you can never have too many bullets in your gun.

    OMG, did I just make a violence-laced analogy??? Must be all that Duck Hunt I’ve been playing.

  22. 0
    qAaRoN ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Failed? The hell you say! Your son did drugs, but it was the video games that made him do it? Did…this actually turn into a defense for drug dealers? Ya hear that kids! You can take all the drugs you want, it’s the polygonal figures inside the t.v. that will make you crazy. Not the mind altering chemicals coursing throughout your body! -_-

  23. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @father time

    very true, in some cases yes and they have to sometimes in order to secure a failsafe argument, but the difference is that they are seeking to punish the criminals, defence attorneys do the opposite. so the fact that she is helping and attempting to justify his actions as an means of shifting the blame to someone or something else is appalling in my mind. if she truely cared about her son, she would make sure that he faces his mistakes rather than teaching him that the best course of action in his situation is to manipulate things to get around them.

    what she is doing is basically telling her kid (and herself for that matter) that what he did wasnt a bad thing and that it isnt something worthy of punishment. if i were her i would dismiss the attorney and make the kid fess up. at the very least the kid will learn from his mistakes rather than learning to make them go away without consiquences.

  24. 0
    Rammsoldat says:

    jeez when i was a kid if i was doing somthing wrong id be given to the count of 3 to stop or id get a light open handed slap across the arse wich would upset me because i was a kid and kids get upset easily. After it had been done once or twice just the threat was enough to make me listen to my parents.

    I respect the hell out of them now and they are professions foster carers who have delt with children with violent behavior much like this kid and the lad who was talked about on penny arcade and as they were foster kids (teenage ones at that) a light slap was never an option.

    They’ve been praised time and time again for improving the behavior of kids other people have given up on simply by teaching them that there are consequnces to bad behavior.

    i often wonder why my parents were able to raise me and my siblings as well as many many troubled kids (some of whom have moved on into adult life and stay in contact) while other parents have childeren that will talk to their folks in such a way that im actually appauled.

    For example my relative came to visit from san diego, id never met him before but my family said he was 15 and had alot in common with me. I took him around, showed him what little there was to do around here. He seemed like a nice kid until his nan turned up. she’d tell him that they were gonna go do stuff soon and ask him if he wanted to go and he’d start shouting at her.

    I thought to myself if i had done that at his age my dad would have kicked me up the arse.

    Yes slapping small kids is bullying but you have to remember that in a sucsessful household the kid shouldnt be on equal footing with the parents, he should respect then and i feel that respect is often gained from a very small amount of fear.

    thats just my take on it from my experience, i realise that not every family would be able or willing to do this as it was my dad who was the scary one and my mum that was the nice one.

    well anyway ive ranted for a bit, ive got alot to say on the subject wich needs alot of explanation as theres a very thin line between physical punishment and child abuse and like i say it dont work on teenagers.

  25. 0
    point09micron says:

    “a little off topic but prosecutors ALSO lie and exploit the law as well, just look at the D.A. in charge of the duke lacrosse team case (which is an unacceptable disgrace to the state i love). “

    Rape is one of those crimes where the accused attacker is almost always considered guilty until proven innocent by both the prosecution and the media. It’s just like the Penny Arcade thing AgonThalia linked. Just the allegation by the kid that he was abused was enough to make the authorities believe him and not the parents. =\

    On-topic: I’m glad to see there’s still some sanity in this country. It’s a shame there’s no way to actually outlaw defenses like this though. I worry that one day some dumb*** jury is going to believe all the misinformation and actually not convict someone because of “teh video gamez!”

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