There are those who say that all the video game violence our kids are exposed to these days, is no good for them. They say that playing such games will lead to violent behavior and a disconnect from reality. Of course, studies have been done which find this to be, at best, inconclusive.
Daniel from Wellington, Ohio was 16-going-on-21. He was the type of kid who, while good at heart, still had a taste for disobeying authority. He also had a taste for video games, one that would lead him to make the biggest mistake of his life…
Daniel liked video games, he liked them a lot. Whenever he was with his friends, specifically at their houses, he would play them for hours. His favorite was the game Halo, a First Person Shooter style game where soldiers fight aliens. Once he got the change to play the third iteration of the series, Halo 3, he was hooked.
Daniel liked the game so much that he decided he was going to purchase a copy for himself. Unfortunately for him, his parents had other plans. His father Mark, a minister at the New Life Assembly of God in Wellington, did not believe that the game was appropriate for a young man of 16. They told him he couldn’t buy it…
Preach It, Parents
His mother agreed as well. In fact, Both parents objected to the idea of their son playing any sort of violent game with adult ratings, regardless of the fact that the bad guys being killed in the game were, by and large, fictional aliens. They just didn’t want him owning them, but they couldn’t stop him playing the games at a friend’s house.
Still, Mark warned his son that if Daniel were to buy any violent video games whatsoever, he would destroy them. He was very clear on that fact. Of course, teenage boys are rarely perfect examples of obedience to their parents’ wishes. Heedless of his father’s warnings, Daniel bought the game behind their backs…
Daniel was the type of teenage boy who regularly did the opposite of what his parents wanted. He would sneak out the house and use his allowance to buy any number of violent video games which he would then hide. As soon as Halo 3 was officially released, he bought it. As it happened, he’d get plenty of time to play it soon too.
In the coming weeks, Daniel contracted a staphylococcus infection from a jet ski injury. As such, he was housebound for several weeks. This gave him plenty of time to play with his newest clandestine game. While he was home, he would play Halo 3 for hours at a time. In one particular weekend stretch, he played for 18 hours without taking a single break…
Susan Petric, Daniel’s mother, eventually came home to find him playing the very game she’d told him not to. As promised, Mark Petric took the game and locked it in his safe cabinet in his bedroom, along with the concealed 9mm Taurus PT-92 handgun he kept for emergencies.
Steal it Back
Daniel had made up his mind that his father had only taken it so that he could play it himself. He was furious and having serious game withdrawals. Finally, about a week later, he could take it no longer. He stole his father’s key and unlocked the safe, taking back his beloved Halo and his dad’s 9mm just in case…
It was October 20, 2007, and the middle of the afternoon when Daniel went into the living room to speak to his parents. He had the gun behind his back. By then, he had maintained the pretense that he had forgiven them, so when he asked his parents to close their eyes and told them he had a surprise for them, they readily complied.
If the Petrics had expected a pleasant surprise from their son, they were sadly mistaken. With their eyes closed, Mark and Susan heard gunshots ring out. Mark felt his head go numb, saw the blood pouring from the wound, and fell unconscious. Susan was shot in the head, arms, and chest: killing her instantly…
At the time, Daniel had no idea that his father was still alive. He planted the gun in his father’s hand, saying “Here dad, here’s your gun. Take it.” His plan was to make the scene look like a murder-suicide, but the timely arrival of his older sister Heidi put an end to that little bit of subterfuge.
Caught at the Scene
A few minutes after shooting his parents, Daniel Petric was surprised to hear his sister Heidi and her husband Andrew walking through the front door. They had come over because of the family’s plan to watch the baseball game together. Daniel had just forgotten about it. He told them not to come in, that their parents had been fighting…
Heidi and Andrew weren’t stupid, however and as soon as they heard groaning coming from the living room, pushed their way through Daniel’s feeble barricade. There, sitting in the center of the room were the bloodied bodies of Mark and Susan Petric. Mark was still alive, but just barely. They called 911 then turned to confront Daniel, but he was already gone.
On the Run
Before the police and emergency crews could arrive on the scene, Daniel had made good his escape. He’d jumped into the family’s van and he took his beloved Halo 3 game with him. The murderous 16-year-old didn’t get far however, and was caught at a police roadblock. As they cuffed him, he continued to try for the original ruse, shouting: “My Dad shot my Mom!”
Daniel’s trial was held without a jury in front of local Judge James Burge. His defense attorney, James Kersey, had what he believed to be a rock-solid excuse for Daniel’s murderous attack. He claimed that the severe infection put an awful lot of stress on him and as such, he was much more susceptible to being influenced by the game.
Addled by the Game
His argument was essentially that because of Halo 3 and the infection, Daniel wasn’t in the right state of mind. The addled teen had been playing the game so long that he didn’t understand the reality, the finality of death anymore. He thought his parents would “respawn” after he killed them…
The prosecuting attorney didn’t buy it at all. His argument was much more sound and had nothing to do with blaming the video game. He said that by continually trying to pass the deaths off as a murder-suicide, Daniel showed no remorse for his actions. He knew what he was doing wrong and he would be tried for murder.
Forgiveness and Regret
Oddly enough, it was during the subsequent trial that Mark Petric, having almost entirely recovered, came to forgive his son. Mark believed that Daniel was truly remorseful and even implored the judge to be lenient on his son, saying: “I can’t count the number of times that he said, ‘Dad, I miss Mom…’”
Life in Prison
In the end though, even forgiveness and a modicum of remorse were not enough to spare Daniel Petric a life sentence. He was saved from the death penalty only by his age. In 25 years, give or take, Daniel might have a chance of parole, but it remains to be seen what, if anything, he’s learned from his biggest mistake.
Video Game Addiction
Regardless of the fact that he was found guilty, cases like this are all too common. Many people still believe that violent video games, like Halo 3, are the cause of an increase in gun violence amongst young people. Yet there are plenty of people who understand that these games are just entertainment and not reality. Whatever our actions, we cannot simply blame video games for our bad behavior.