Well, it’s time for yet another Myth Buster’s: Personal Injury Edition blog courtesy of the Baton Rouge, LA Law Offices of J. Price McNamara. This time, we’re going to talk about killers. Natural Born Killers, to be exact. Not many people have heard about this particular case, however, trust us when we say that this particular case is about as ridiculous as they come.
Hollywood has been producing films for longer than the majority of us have been alive. The genres spread across hundreds of mediums from romance, horror, suspense, mystery, mystery, etc. we’ve all been watching them for years, all of us owing large portions of our entertainment to the brilliant minds in Hollywood both on and off the screen.
However, one family decided to take inspiration to a whole other level, then retroactively blame Hollywood. More specifically, they blamed Natural Born Killer’s director Oliver Stone.
Let’s take a closer look at this story, and what actually happened.
The Crime, the Family, the Consequences.
In 1995, a young couple by the names of Sarah Edmondson and Ben Darras decided to walk into a local convenience store and rob it. Unfortunately, during the scuffle of this robbery, an innocent bystander by the name of Patsy Byers was shot and nearly killed. Instead, he was left a quadriplegic. Of course, despite how horrible these events are, they are not uncommon. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. However, when a crime like this strikes your family, everything becomes real. It’s no longer a story you are hearing about on the news and then moving on about your day. It’s personal, it’s life-altering, and it’s tragic.
Natural Born Killers Get the Blame
Here’s where this case jumps from the norm and into the slightly abnormal. Once apprehended the two suspects, Edmondson and her boyfriend Darras, claimed to have watched Oliver Stone’s 1994 blockbuster filmed Natural Born Killers several times before deciding to go through with their robbery plans.
In case you aren’t familiar with the movie, Natural Born Killers is a film that that follows a mentally unsound couple as they burglarize and shoot their way across the country. If you are seeing a connection between the crimes portrayed in the movie, and those committed by Edmondson and Darras, you are not alone. The family of Patsy Byers felt the same after they heard the couple spent the days before their crime watching Stone’s film several times.
Constitutional Amendments Save Stone
Like any normal family, Byers’ wanted justice, and someone to blame other than the criminals. They wanted a reason, they wanted sense to be made of a senseless situation. This is normal and nearly anyone would feel the same in a situation similar to the one Byers’ family was now in. Because of this, the family soon sought out repercussions in the form of a lawsuit filed against Stone and his movie. They claimed Stone’s film drove Edmondson and Darras to commit the crime.
However, and some might see this as unfortunate or fortunate, anger and a need for closure do not override the first amendment, under which Stone’s film is protected. That amendment promises and protects the rights of American citizens to freedom of speech, religion, and press. Stone’s film was a direct exercise of this amendment. As an American citizen, he is free to produce any film, as long as that film does not affect another person’s free will or rights. Stone was also not present at the time of the shooting and did not know of it, or the people involved, in any way.
For this reason, the lawsuit was thrown out by a judge right here in our own beautiful state of Louisiana. Edmondson and Darras were not so lucky. Edmondson, who was the one that actually shot Byers, is serving a thirty-five year prison sentence. Darras is in prison for life, as he committed murder Mississippi during the same crime spree that Byers was shot in.
And there is it. The case of the Natural Born Killers inspired crime spree busted – J. McNamara style.
Until next time readers, be safe out there and Godspeed.
Following graduation from Loyola Law School in New Orleans in 1990, Price McNamara served as a Federal Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable John M Shaw, Chief Judge, United States District Court Western District of Louisiana.
Mr. McNamara founded the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, and began putting his past experience to work for the injured and disabled clients he now represents against the insurance companies in personal injury and long term disability and other insurance disputes in both federal and state courts