GTA killer case clears hurdle

Alabama suit against gamemakers and retailers proceeds as state's top court denies appeal; Jack Thompson promises case will "destroy Rockstar."

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The jostling for position continues in the civil suit that pits the estates of killed cops Arnold Strickland and Leslie "Ace" Mealer of Fayette County, Alabama, against the makers and sellers of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

In a criminal case that made national headlines in 2003, carjacker Devin Moore, in police custody at the time, grabbed one of the arresting officer's guns and shot and killed that officer and two others. Moore later told investigators, "Life is like a video game; everybody has to die sometime."

Moore admitted to playing Vice City, which is published by Rockstar Games, prior to the killings, and was later convicted of murder. Shortly before that conviction, a civil lawsuit was brought against Sony, Rockstar parent Take-Two Interactive, Wal-Mart, and GameStop on behalf of two of three officers' estates.

In a decision handed down last week and first reported by the Associated Press, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the defendants to dismiss the case. That decision keeps alive the $600 million lawsuit blaming the publishers and retailers for contributing to the actions of Devin Moore back on June 7, 2003.

The Supreme Court justices issued their decision without comment, letting the case proceed to trial. The court did, however, open the door for additional delays or dismissal as it agreed to hear claims that the Alabama court lacks the power to hear the case, according to the Associated Press.

Florida attorney and antigame activist Jack Thompson, who penned the original complaint with fellow attorneys Patrick Gray and Raymond Reiser, told GameSpot today he expects the ongoing litigation to both "destroy Rockstar [Games]" and "change the face of the entertainment industry."

Thompson removed himself from the case in November, 2005, after defense attorneys asked Fayette County circuit judge James Moore to remove the lawyer for violations of legal ethics.

A defiant Thompson today said, "I am counsel for all of the plaintiffs, they are still my clients, I was the one who won the First Amendment argument in the hearing on November 3, 2005, which trial record was what was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court, and I fully expect to be in the courtroom trying the case when it is tried."

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