An 18-year-old Maryland man is heading to jail for seven years for a crime which prosecutors allege was inspired by Grand Theft Auto.
Hometown Annapolis reports that Nathan Wade Hartley, Jr. "door checked" two young brothers last August. Hartley, who had three friends in his car at the time, drove at the boys (ages 11 and 15), striking one by opening the driver’s door of his Honda Civic and hitting the other with the front end of his car. The boys were critically injured in the assault.
Deputy State’s Attorney John Mark McDonald commented on the case:
This was particularly disturbing… It just makes me worry about what he will do in the future… The only reason these kids are alive is luck or grace or whatever you want to call it.
Maryland radio station WTOP-FM has more:
A teenager is headed to prison for what prosecutors say was a senseless crime inspired by a video game.
In the popular game "Grand Theft Auto," players drive virtual cars and intentionally hit pedestrians by smacking them with open car doors. It’s called "door checking," and prosecutors say 18-year-old Nathan Hartley decided to try it with a real car last summer.
GP: Is "door checking" possible in GTA? I’m having trouble locating any videos depicting it…
UPDATE: PS3 Attitude spoke to prosecutor McDonald, who denied linking the crime to GTA:
The suggestion came through the Defendant. I have never seen Grand Theft Auto, and had never heard of ‘door-checking’ until this case. It was a defense he set forth in attempting to waive his case back to the juvenile court. The State did not introduce the game into the prosecution of this case. It added nothing. My comments on the game were to rebut his reasoning for doing what he did.
I did not suggest that the game was to blame for his conduct, and would not. The blame lies entirely with Nathan Hartley. I stated as much in court. As I indicated, I have never even seen the game and I was not passing any judgment on the game. I was simply arguing why I felt his justification was not valid.
GamePolitics was in touch with Hometown Annapolis reporter Scott Daugherty, whose original article seemed to suggest that prosecutor McDonald make the GTA link to the crime. Here’s what Daugherty told us:
It’s been awhile since I’ve played GTA and the prosecutor has never seen the game. According to the prosecutor, Hartley’s defense attorney referenced GTA in court as a defense… I guess the old, "it’s not my fault, the video games made me do it," defense.
While I don’t recall being able to specifically door check someone in GTA Vice City (the last one played), I do remember clipping pedestrians as I drove down the sidewalk. If you hit one they would fly off to the side.
That is the best I can offer.