Colorado Teens Held for Murder, Said to be Imitating Mortal Kombat

December 20, 2007 -
In what is likely to become a black eye for the video game industry, a pair of Colorado teenagers face murder charges following the tragic death of a 7-year-old girl.

Lamar Roberts, 17, and Heather Trujillo, 16 (seen at left), told police they were babysitting Heather's sister, Zoe Garcia earlier this month. According to the Rocky Mountain News, the three began acting out a version of Mortal Kombat.

Roberts, apparently drunk, kicked the litte girl. Heather Trujillo told police she "punched [Zoe] in the stomach, karate chopped her lower arms, punched and pinched the victim's thighs, kicked her in the shins, slapped her stomach and buttocks and poked at the victim's chest."

GP: From the limited information available so far, it's difficult to know whether Roberts and Trujillo actually played Mortal Kombat, or whether it is a generic reference to martial arts fighting. In either case, the linkage of the tragedy to the controversial game series is likely to further tarnish the image of the video game industry.

Comments

Hm, she's good-looking too...

I suppose that she was a teenager and was drunk (Underage drinking anyone?) isn't even being considered in this case because as we all know it's them darn video games that make the world such a bad place.

Everything in life is imitatable. People who watched Jackass would go do the same stunts. Most people have some sort of judgment that comes into play. And, like the article clearly states, at least one of them was drunk.

Also, Babality?

Crap! Someone kill Jack Thompson's internet connection before he finds out about this!

@Timothy Watson


my my my

I dont remember being able to punch and pinch my opponents thighs in MK or kick them in the shins. Being able to slap a female character in the stomach and buttocks would have been a nice addition, but I never saw that in the game either.

Sounds more like GodHand

I guess its time to ban video games again.

We'll ignore professional wrestling, competitive martial arts/mixed martial arts, pretty much the entire Hong Kong film industry and professional sports though.

Damnit, just what we need, the stereotype "babysitter invites drunken boyfriend over" gets increased to "... and kills child". Cant believe those stupid kids. Besides the fact that Mortal Combat is a horrible thing to even consider playing with a SEVEN yearold, to be drunk doing it is just moronic and idiotic. I feel ashamed of my age group. (15-19)

I thought anyone younger than 20 wouldn't even care about this fighting series. It stopped being good over a decade ago. (imo, of course)

Jack Thompson blaming the games in 5...4...3...2...1

Of course it wasn't the fact they were drunk that caused them to act like idiotsas it would any adult it was the evil games! This seems like another pathetic tie-in to games by either a fearful prosecutor or a damn desprate defense though either way it doesn't allevate thier personal responibility. They were babysitting the kid while drunk obviously SOMETHING was going to happen regardless of whether they played the game or not. I'm also slightly amazed, but mostly bemused, at how quickly people jumped all over the game angle even with an overwhelming lack of evidence...the second coming of JBT perhaps?

I'm curious as to what actually caused the girl's death, because none of the stuff in the article sounds even remotely fatal. There's more to this story then what we are getting.

@ some guy

On their own, nothing looks fatal. But when you combine them all in succession, it can quickly get there.

This is mostly a case of stupid kids getting drunk. There was probably a real fight that happened, and it was turned on the poor kid.

I really hate hearing stuff like this and I hope that the two "babysitters" get prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Considering how long Mortal Kmobat has been around, I don't think this is going to be as big a deal as some might fear. The MK franchise has been around for more than 10 years now and only now does it get linked to a murder (however tenuously)? You might as well blame Three Stooges shorts or Tom and Jerry cartoons.

This has the same air about it as the case where two teens killed a younger child and later claimed they were imitating pro wrestling (please cite the source for me). If I recall, that defense was thrown out. And considering what we saw yesterday, I seriously doubt this will have anywhere near as big an impact.

"it’s difficult to know whether Roberts and Trujillo actually played Mortal Kombat, or whether it is a generic reference to martial arts fighting."

I believe it's a generic reference. Kid's playfighting before even the earliest beat em up game was referred to as playing karate, batman, cops and robbers, etc.

If a teen got drunk and jumped from a 5 story window because they claimed they were playing "superman", there would be no backlash against the comic character.

Long story short, you have a teen who is abusive to her sister. She gets drunk and beats the girl, with a little help from her boyfriend and they decide to call this funny activity Mortal Kombat. Alarmist media sources hear Mortal Kombat and immediately start jumping to ridiculous conclusions.

I almost have no words. I have a young daughter. The story gives a brief mention of alchohol then goes in depth on Games. I'm just saddened and sickened all over.

@ some guy

That's just what i was going to say... it doesn't even look like anything lethal was even injured.

@Black Manta

"The MK franchise has been around for more than 10 years now and only now does it get linked to a murder (however tenuously)? You might as well blame Three Stooges shorts or Tom and Jerry cartoons."

Actually, MK being blamed in murder cases is nothing new. Apparently in New Deli, years ago, children playfighting, one accidently broke the others neck. So they hid the body in the river and blamed Mortal Kombat. Fortunately, that excuse didn't work then either.

All they really have to do is show game footage. This sounds like a drunken savage beating, nothing like the game.

@shoehorn o'plenty
"If a teen got drunk and jumped from a 5 story window because they claimed they were playing “superman”, there would be no backlash against the comic character."

A Comic Code Authority says what? Early Superman comics were excessively violent as were other early books. Unfortunately, to avoid government regulation, the comic industry established the CCA in the US. A system sooo strict and ridiculously hindering that Asia and Europe comics were quickly advancing and the US comics would take years before they caught up. All because of what you mentioned. Imitatable acts.

Unfortunately, gaming is the new comic books. It will pass eventually and then the gaming industry equivelant of Lobo will look pretty tame.

As young teens, my cousins and I used to act out what we see in Professional Wrestling shows. Nothing wrong with that as long as there are limits to how you act it out.

The problem in this case though may be that the teens in this story were drunk leading to loss of restraint and control. Seems to me like "being drunk" should be examined more as a factor here than video games.

What I'd like to know is who referenced Mortal Kombat in the original news release.

All is says in the original text is that an affidavit was filed - so was it Lamar, Heather, or somebody else who stated the aforementioned info?

Alright I just don't get it. Why does it seem whenever something good happens to us like Virginia Tech investigation showing that the killer did not play counterstrike, Jack Thompson's disbarrment, etc. That something like this happens and adds fuel to the fire.

So what? Sorry about the kid, but who can actually prove it was MK?

Maybe it was wrestling, martial arts, Olympics, American Gladiator, or a million other things that simulate or feature real life combat.

Or it could've been nothing except for the fact that the killers were really screwed up in the head and had some sort of genetic pre-dispositiion to sadism.

But hey, they're just talkin bout MK for the sensationalism.

Case in point: just a few minutes ago I saw a segment on MSNBC talking about this case and all they did was show film of MK.

Some of the MK film was from the original 1992/1993 game!!!!!!!!

They might not have hit any immediately fatal areas, but a sufficient bludgeoning could lead to internal injuries, damage, and death. It's far more likely when you consider that the victim was a 7 year old girl and probably doesn't have a very tough constitution, and that the assailants were apparently drunk and might not have had sufficient control to pull their punches like one would usually do when play fighting.

Glad to see that there is no shortage of "blame the game" crowd posting comments on the news article.

From Kotaku:
"According to the arrest affidavits, Trujillo told investigators she and Roberts were babysitting Zoe (Garcia) and her twin, 3-year-old sisters, while their mother worked at the Corral Bar about five blocks away.
Trujillo said they were acting out the video game "Mortal Combat" by savagely hitting and kicking Zoe, even dropping her on her side, which broke her wrist. Roberts, who claimed to be a martial-arts expert with his hands registered as "lethal weapons, said Zoe had asked him to stop hitting her but that he didn't because "...I was drunk."
Roberts said he had performed a back kick on her, then kicked her again as she ran toward him. She fell back and didn't get up. She had stopped breathing, and Trujillo and Roberts waited 15 minutes before calling for help.
They said they put her in a bath, which temporarily revived her, but that she stopped breathing again. Roberts said he cracked an egg in her mouth "to see if she was messing around with them."
The egg went down her throat, the affidavit stated.
Finally, the mother and paramedics were called. Zoe was taken to the Northern Colorado Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. "

Sounds like a bit more than playfighting to me. As someone who does martial arts himself, it saddens me to no end when poeple lilke this claim to be martial artists but are no more than savage idiots.

Here's the thing that bothers me...

Some people may think I'm anti-video game for this, but nothing could be further from the truth. I own all 3 major consoles, and I currently have no less than 7 systems hooked up to my TV. I'm a diehard gamer, but the fact of the matter is that these two teens ADMITTED they were acting out a video game, yet people still deny it.

Nobody seems sorry about what happened - they're just worried about how it will affect video games and what Jack Thompson will say. Who really gives a crap? There's a dead child, for God's sake!

All anybody seems worried about it whether or not they can link it to MK or whether or not people will take into account the fact that the murderers were drunk, and honestly, that's just as sickening as Jack Thompson's anti-game stance. It shows gamers as heartless, thoughtless zealots - which isn't that too far off from Thompson and his crusade.

@some guy
Given that the older two were drunk, I'd bet they didn't pull punches. A properly placed punch to the stomach can kill a full grown man if it catches him off guard. A sixteen year old punching (possibly as hard as she can) a 7 year old in the stomach is potentially pretty damaging when you consider she doesn't have much muscle there to protect herself. The kick she received from the boy could have been severely damaging as well, depending on where she was kicked. If they were after the punch, the slap to the stomach and possibly the poke to the chest could have made any internal damages worse, as well as any jostling from the other attacks. The difference in strength and durability between a 7 year old and a 16 year old is massive, it doesn't take much.

I want to say first and foremost that I am deeply saddened to hear what happened to this little girl. What she must have been experiencing and how she passed makes me burn with rage and sorrow...

@Jeddy3 - I was with you for most of your post. As you pointed out, there are few posts showing sympathy for the girl and what she had to go through. There are, however, far too many posts trying to push the blame: parents, alcohol, video games, etc.

Who is entirely at fault? Obviously those that committed the crime. Blame, at this point, is irrelevant because two young lives are now ruined, and one innocent life is lost completely.

We don't blame DC for kids jumping off buildings trying to fly.

The comments in that article are nerve-wrecking. I guess GP's comment level really is post grad.

Jeddy, I think the tragedy is a given. I have kids and am an avid MK fan. This is absolutely ridiculous. Theres so much wrong with this that it's hard to even pinpoint whats the worst part (aside form the death itself). I mean, here someones little girl is dead, but the focus on blame is being hoisted onto the Video Game scapegoat again.
I think it's jsut sick, here two kids were drinking, and they beat a 7 year old to death. There's no excuse, video game aside, two people chose to beat a 7 year old.. a small child.. until they died. They didn't stop when she cried, they didn't stop when she was hurt.
Blame needs to be put where it's due. This is why the stance against J.T. is so strong, becuase the way he promotes his propoganda takes the focus not only off of remembering the victim, but it relieves part of the guilt of the criminals by putting the blame on games.

@Jeddy3:

I agree with you. Because the issue of video game violence is handled completely wrong by politicians doesn't mean it isn't a real issue. A lot of the stories about video games influencing people to commit crimes are nonsense but cases like this can't just be ignored.

@DavCube
@Somguy

People can and have been beaten to death, and without the use of weapons. From what we can gather these to drunken idiots weren't just "playing" they were hitting the girl with a very significant amount of force. Varying from person to person, a strong strike is all it takes to really hurt someone and knocked them down, especially when the victim is a little girl. And if you keep beating on them you could very well damage a few organs. I'm certain an autopsy would be able to tell us exactly how she died...

Jeddy is right. People here, save one, care more about the PR problem this will cause for gaming than the fact that some little girl out there just got fatalitied by some mother^&ckers who need to get their eyes scooped out of their heads.

And yes, consider the fact that this is a seven (?) year old girl we're talking about, it doesn't take a heck of a lot of drop-kicks before she gets her internal organs reorganized.

Heard about this story on CNN a couple of minute ago. The old media "stupidstorm" is about to begin.

here we go again

The autopsy revealed the little girl died of blunt force trauma, so yes - she was literally beaten to death.

Imitating video games or movies or wrestling be damned. What kind of 16-year-old does this to her younger sister? The boyfriend claimed to be intoxicated, but there is nothing indicating the sister was, even if that could be used as an excuse (which it shouldn't). My older kids are 11 and 8 years older, respectively, than their little brother and they'd both burn out their own eyes with red hot pokers before they'd so much as lay a hand on him, except to hug him.

There is NO excuse for what happened to this poor child. NONE. I am glad they are both being tried as adults. I also feel very, very badly for the mother.

That's funny, I don't remember beating up a kid in any mortal kombat game. I also don't remember every being able to 'pinch' my enemies.

So I call bullshit on this stupid bitch.

Fox News (yes I know, Fox News ?!?) has a listing of what was found in the autopsy:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,317544,00.html

An autopsy showed she had a broken wrist, more than 20 bruises, swelling of the brain, and bleeding in her neck muscles and under her spine, the affidavits said.


I do agree that taking the blame completely off of games is just as bad as putting it fully on the games. They most likely were drunk. During their drunken stuper, they probably thought it would be fun to play "Mortal Kombat". Because they were drunk, they probably let their good judgment fly out the window and caried it out too far.

Would the kid still be alive if they did not have the idea to "Play mortal Kombat"? Possibly. Would the kid still be alive if they weren't drunk? Most Definiately.

@Jeddy3

You're right - The point here is that some poor kid was killed due to the reckless stupidity of two young adults. Be it video games or alchohol, somebody died. The fact that she was beatn to death only makes this case all the more horrid

@jeddy3

Reading through the comments and the article its not so much denying its video games. Lets call it like it is, the two kids were drunk, judgement was severly impaired, killed the little girl. Honestly its no ones fault but their own. Kids don't alway do the smartest things, i think we can all agree on that. I know when i was younger, I did some dumb things, albeit nothing compared to this.

At that point they probably flipped out, realized they killed her, and now, like normal teenagers, are trying to blame ANYTHING else besides themselves to get out of the mountain of trouble they are in. Kids blame shift all the time.

Honestly, I don't see this as the mothers fault, she was working, trusted her daughter to watch her sister and the kid f'ed up... severly (understatement i know, but..) Again its not anyones fault but their own. But even if they "ADMITTED" it was a video game does that really mean it was? People lie, even to the police.

@E.Z.K. It's like I said before. In this instance, screw the fact that they were drunk or were acting like idiots. It is the video games fault no matter what. Those will be the words of good ol' John Bruce and those like him.

Remember the incident with Pro Wrestling a few years back where a guy killed his younger brother from immitating wrestling moves on him? Screw the fact that he didn't know how to perform them correctly or was doing it to someone literally half his size, it's all pro wrestlings fault.

Did the promotion he watched specifically tell him to go out and do it too his little brother? No. Did mortal kombat specifically tell these two idiots to go out and try to perform a fatality on the kids they were babysitting? No one that count as well.

Am I getting through to anyone here?

----
Papa Midnight

It bothers me that the Mortal Kombat reference is the only thing getting the media in a frenzy. According to the Denver Post, the family had a history of violence and the little girl had been showing up at school covered in bruises. This is clearly a case of child abuse that escalated into murder because social services never did anything about it. Hence they want to blame video games because its easier to blame a moral panic than to take responsibility for their own failure.

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_7760927

Let's see, you have a sixteen year old girl and a seventeen year old boy, drinking. Supposedly they were babysitting the girls little sister. People have already pointed out a number of things wrong with this, but lets continue.
Who came up with the Mortal Kombat angle?
None of the quotes from the witnessess show it. It says it shows up in the court documents.
Then, at the bottom of that article, is another one from The Greeley Tribune trying to pin the entire blame on Mortal Kombat. To be honest, back in the day it was pretty violent. I never played it growing up, but that's because I preferred SFII. However, MK isn't even a blip on the radar right now. That's why I wonder where they got the MK angle from.

Next, this article SHOULD be about a 17 year old getting drunk and, well, lets quote the article:
The witness said Roberts performed a back kick and the girl didn't get up. He said he and Trujillo "cracked an egg in her mouth . . . in an attempt to see if she was messing around with them" by faking unconsciousness.

Because in ALL the medical shows, cracking a raw egg into a little girls mouth after you kicked her unconcious is the best was to check if she is faking.

This guy is 17, SEVENTEEN. Then again, if they try claiming 24 year olds as children when it comes to videogame related violence.

This was a tradgedy, and it shouldn't have happened. However trying to blame a game that hasn't been released for years (actually, I have NO IDEA when the last MK game was out, it isn't really on any screens right now) smacks of a NON-GAMER trying to come up with a scape goat to blame his actions on.

It's crimes like this that make me wish there was an "eye for an eye" system of justice in this country. This drunken jackass decides he wants to play Mortal Kombat in real life with a 7 year old? As punishment, we summon Prince Goro out of his palace in Outworld and see how the drunken jackass does against him.

(Or Zombie Liu Kang. I'm not picky.)

This is indeed a tragedy, because of the actions of two foolish people a life has been taken.
First and foremost is the drinking, the accused said "I don't know I was drunk," this is not an excuse this is stupidity at its finest. Not only did his actions take a life but his inaction of calling the paramedics made it worse. And cracking an egg to see if she was faking? I don't remember being taught that in First Aid class.
If the two "Babysitters" had simply got drunk (or not had a drink in the first place) and fought each other this tragedy could have been averted, they would simply have headaches this morning, instead a family will mourn the loss of a child who's life has been extinguished far too soon.
Simply put the game industry is not to blame for this crime the only ones to blame are the ones that blatantly murdered this little girl.
GameHeretic

@ Rebecca Richards

Thanks for the link. It really shows that this was not an isolated incedent. A family with a history of violence kills a girl. So what do they do? They look for a quick excuse for their actions.

"Roberts, apparently drunk,"

"Roberts, apparently drunk,"

"Roberts, apparently drunk,"

"Roberts, apparently drunk,"

"APPARENTLY DRUNK"

I also saw this on MSNBC (Jack Thompson WAS NOT a guest).

Let's add another thing here. These kids were 16 and 17. Although the brain isn't fuly developed at this age, they should be above the influence of entertainment. Some of us also claim that these kids were drunk. If these kids were, I think you have a deeper problem that video games.
 
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