Computer game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) has been let off the hook by an Alabama jury which this week found cop killer Devin Moore guilty on three counts of murder.
The jury rejected Moore's plea that he was not guilty by reason of mental defect arising from hours spent playing GTA and years of abuse as a child.
In June 2003, Moore was charged with the murder of two Fayette police officers - Arnold Strickland and James Crump - and a civilian police worker, Leslie Mealer. Then 18 years old, Moore had been apprehended by Strickland and Crump for allegedly stealing a car. Taken to the the local police HQ, Moore was later said to have grabbed Strickland's gun and shot all three men in the head.
According to the prosecution, Moore said at his arrest, "life is a video game, everybody has to die sometime". Prosecution lawyers also claimed there was no proven link between virtual violence and violent acts in the real world.
GTA publisher Take Two Interactive, along with games retailers GameStop and Wal-mart, and PlayStation maker Sony, still face a civil action which claims they are complicit in the murder. The lawsuit was filed by the families of the police officers killed by Moore.
GTA was developed by Rockstar, which this week was criticised for its Bully game, in which school pupils set about walloping each other. The game carries an 18 certificate, and so cannot be sold legally to anyone under that age. ®