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Louisiana judge throws out suit claiming movie caused shooting

By The Associated Press


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Oliver Stone

AMITE, La. — A judge yesterday threw out a lawsuit against director Oliver Stone that claimed his movie "Natural Born Killers" led to a young couple's bloody crime spree.

State Judge Bob Morrison dismissed the case on grounds that the filmmakers were protected by the U.S. Constitution's free-speech provisions.

The lawsuit was brought against the makers of the movie, including Time Warner Entertainment, by the family of a Louisiana store clerk who was shot and paralyzed in a rampage by Sarah Edmondson and her boyfriend Ben Darras. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages.

Edmondson and Darras told investigators they were inspired by "Natural Born Killers." Edmondson said she and Darras repeatedly had watched Stone's movie about a young couple who kill 52 people over three weeks.

Edmondson, who was captured in a surveillance video firing a bullet into the clerk's neck, is serving a 35-year prison sentence for the crime. Darras is serving a life sentence for the killing of a Mississippi man during the same crime spree.

The makers of the movie "knew it was violent and directed at young people," said the family's attorney, Joe Simpson.

He said he would appeal.

Attorneys for Stone and Time Warner argued that the movie was protected by the constitutional right to free speech.

"This decision makes clear that the work of artists is protected by the First Amendment and artists do not have to be looking over their shoulders at litigation and tort suits when they are doing their work," said Time Warner attorney Walter Dellinger.

Stone's attorney, David Wood, said the judge's ruling showed that the lawsuit should never have been filed.

"Oliver Stone did not cause Patsy Byers to be shot," Wood said. "It was Sarah Edmondson that shot Patsy Byers."


Louisiana court hears appeal in 'Natural Born Killers' case
Judges to consider whether filmmakers should share blame for couple's crime spree.  04.12.02