Defense Based on Game Hasn't Won Many Juries; [NASSAU AND SUFFOLK Edition]
By Davan Maharaj Newsday (Combined editions). Long Island, N.Y.:  Jun 16, 1988.  pg. 27
People: Radecki, Thomas,  Meyer, Jeffrey
Author(s): By Davan Maharaj
Section: NEWS
Publication title: Newsday. (Combined editions). Long Island, N.Y.: Jun 16, 1988.  pg. 27
Source type: Newspaper
Text Word Count 555
Abstract (Document Summary)

[Thomas Radecki], who is chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence, testified in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday as an expert witness in a sentencing hearing for Jeffrey Meyer, a soldier who pleaded guilty in the slashing deaths of an elderly couple in 1986. Military police at Ft. Bragg, N.C., had found bloody ninja capes, oriental knives and a Dungeons and Dragons book when they stopped Meyer and a co-defendant in a restricted area.

Radecki said that when he interviewed Meyer, the soldier asked him about the possibility of astral travel, in which the mind leaves the body and travels through space. Meyer believed that he could use astral travel to get out of jail, he said, and that "he would come back in a medieval life when dungeons and dragons were real."

In Joplin, Mo., Radecki said, three teenagers are claiming in a trial this week that their association with Dungeons and Dragons led them to Satan worship and caused them to kill a playmate. The teenagers had just killed a cat when they turned on a fourth youth who had participated in the Satan worship, Radecki said.

Full Text (555   words)
(Copyright Newsday Inc., 1988)

SIDEBAR; SEE MAIN STORY: A MURDER DEFENSE USES"DUNGEONS & DRAGONS

The defense being offered by Daniel Kasten in the killing of hisparents in Ronkonkoma is also being told in courts in two other states this week: Dungeons and Dragons made us do it. But based on precedent, the outlook for acquittals may not be good. More than 50 criminal defendants have been convicted after using the "Dungeon and Dragon defense," a leading expert said yesterday, while only one that he knew of was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

In that case, a 13-year-old boy had killed his 9-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother in Ontario, Canada, in 1984. He was committed to a mental institution.

"We can link 116 deaths, cases of suicides and homicides, to these antisocial types of games," said the expert, Dr. Thomas Radecki, a psychiatrist with a private practice in Champaign, Ill. Dungeons and Dragons was involved in most of them, he said, adding that the violent fantasy game "has caused roughly as many deaths each year as all other toys combined."

Radecki, who is chairman of the National Coalition on Television Violence, testified in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday as an expert witness in a sentencing hearing for Jeffrey Meyer, a soldier who pleaded guilty in the slashing deaths of an elderly couple in 1986. Military police at Ft. Bragg, N.C., had found bloody ninja capes, oriental knives and a Dungeons and Dragons book when they stopped Meyer and a co-defendant in a restricted area.

Radecki said that when he interviewed Meyer, the soldier asked him about the possibility of astral travel, in which the mind leaves the body and travels through space. Meyer believed that he could use astral travel to get out of jail, he said, and that "he would come back in a medieval life when dungeons and dragons were real."

Meyer was absent when Radecki testified Monday: He and four other men had broken out of a Cumberland County, N.C., prison the day before. He has not been apprehended, and his sentencing has been put off.

In Joplin, Mo., Radecki said, three teenagers are claiming in a trial this week that their association with Dungeons and Dragons led them to Satan worship and caused them to kill a playmate. The teenagers had just killed a cat when they turned on a fourth youth who had participated in the Satan worship, Radecki said.

The game's manufacturer, TSR, of Lake Geneva, Wis., declined yesterday to comment on Kasten's defense or any of the other cases. However, in previous statements a TSR spokeswoman defended the game, saying that "it allows you to exercise the creative process without actually putting yourself in danger."

The game has been in the news since it was invented by insurance salesman Gary Gygax of Lake Geneva, Wis., in 1973. It has sold more than 8 million copies, spun off a popular cartoon show, spawned dozens of imitations, but also triggered protests. It also led concerned parents to form at least two protest groups - Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons and the International Coalition Against Violent Entertainment. Some school districts have banned playing of the game in school following protests by Protestant fundamentalists.

Most D&D defendants are teenage boys, Radecki said, and while they rarely win acquittals the defense sometimes leads to a mitigated sentence.