The father of a Wellington Ohio teen who blamed video games for killing his mother and attempting to kill his father, is warning parents about the evils of playing them to excess. In court during his son's trial, defense attorneys blamed depression and an addiction to video games for the violence that saw a mother die and a father seriously wounded with his own handgun.
"We have a young man who's normal, a normal young man until he starts viewing video games," attorney, James Kersey said.
While people will argue about the merits of the "video games made me do it" defense, one supposed expert on teen shootings says that this case sheds light on the serious problem of violent video games.
The fatal shooting occurred October 20, 2007 at the Brighton Township home of Pastor Mark and Sue Petric. The day before, the 16-year-old Danny Petric got into a argument with his parents over the video game Halo 3, which they forbid him to play inside their home. After finding out that their son had been sneaking out to play the game with friends, the Petrics locked it up in a lock box.
Later that night, as the family prepared to watch an Indians-Red Sox game on TV, Danny entered the living room and shot both of his parents. Later other members of the family showed up, wrestled the gun from the teen and called police. According to reports, he stole the family mini-van, taking his copy of Halo 3 with him. Eventually police caught up with him and charged him with murder.
"You know, the only thing he took with him was that video game," Pastor Petric said. "Was he obsessed? Oh yea, big time!"
Danny began playing video games after a snowboarding injury kept him confined to home for more than a year. During that time, Danny also became depressed. According to one expert, these two factors are what led to the shooting. Phil Chalmers who has reportedly researched juvenile murderers for 25 years, claims that there are several factors that can create teen murderers, such as mental illness, being bullied, depression, and video game addiction. Chalmers' latest book is called "Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer."
Chalmers claims that Daniel Petric had two of the "top 10 causes" of teen shootings: depression and an "obsession with violent media/video games."
"I am convinced that violent video games played a key role in this crime," Chalmers said, adding that before his injury the teen was a "normal kid."
Chalmers and Pastor Petric are convinced that the video game turned Danny into a murderer:
"They become desensitized to murder and all the lines between reality fade away, and they act on impulse...exactly what Danny did," said Chalmers.
Mark Petric added, "These games are addictive. Kids get addicted like they do to drugs."
Chalmers disagrees with the assertion that video games do not cause real world violence: "The medical community has released a joint statement that says if children are exposed to violent media, they're gonna become violent. But they make it politically correct by saying some or maybe."
Danny was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison and the Petric family has forgiven him for his crimes. The family is now focusing its attention on the video game industry. They are on a mission to keep violent video games out of the hands of children.
"I'm gonna fight them. They put weapons in the hands of our children that teaches them to murder, and that killing is okay," said Petric.
Chalmers warns parents that Mark Petric's story could end up being theirs: "Learn from this case. This could be you," he said.