WRONG: 'Your son could become the next Halo killer'
22nd Jul 2011 | 14:28
"There has never been a causal link established between real-life violence and video game violence in any verifiable scientific study."
True facts. But not good enough for 'expert on teen killers' Phil Chalmers.
Big Phil refutes such evidence. Big Phil's not for turning. Big Phil's got his own research.
Sure, it's anonymous and he chooses not to directly quote from it. But "basically, y'know", it exists.
How can we be so certain?
Because Big Phil says so. And now, thanks to Fox News 8, he says so to millions upon millions of viewers - over sinister synth tones and black'n'white images on PS3s drenched in dread.
Here he goes: "The medical community has released a joint statement that basically says, you know, if children are exposed to violent media, they're going to become violent."
"Basically, y'know." That little clarification is vital. Because even Phil admits they don't really say that.
Off-camera, according to Fox's supplemental write-up, he adds that "they [the medical community] make it politically correct by saying 'some' or 'maybe'".
Big Phil does not explain where 'they' put those words. Or quite what political correctness has to do with anything. (Bloody Guardian-reading, bicycle-riding, veggie-munching medical community. They'll be renaming antibiotics next, just because they're 'anti' something.)
Why is Big Phil on Fox News 8 in the first place? Good question. We're still not really sure.
For some reason, he's discussing a tragic, unique case that took place almost five years ago. (Find our detailed account of those events below. Probably best you refresh your memory before you watch Fox 8's video. They miss out a few details...)
Other than that, we really don't have a scooby.
He does have a book to sell: "Inside the mind of a Teen Killer". Looks great. Edge-of-the-seat stuff.
According to Amazon, Big Phil released it on the tenth anniversary of the Columbine Massacre. Classy.
In the publishing world, they call that a 'tentpole release'. Like when they do Harry Potter books when Harry Potter's out.
Big Phil's obviously no marketing slouch. And he certainly believes that video games can inspire teenagers to kill. "They become desensitised to murder," he says. "All of the lines to reality fade away and they just act on impulse."
And to think they could also grow up to be a weirdo in a basement too.
Phil signs off on his Fox 8 appearance with a stark message to parents: "Learn from this case. This could be you."
Don't have nightmares.
A severely depressed 16-year-old shot both his parents in Ohio, US, in 2007 - killing his mother and severely wounding his father. Daniel Petric was subsequently sentenced to at least 23 years in prison for aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder.
It was discovered during the boy's trial that his mental instability stemmed from an injury - and subsequent staph infection - that left the previously active Petric house-bound for months.
During this time, he reportedly purchased Halo 3 during this time, and began to play it for over 12-hours a day.
His parents, concerned by the game's violent content, confiscated it and placed it in a locked safe, alongside a 9mm pistol - the same gun their son used to shoot them.
Once Petric had shot his mother in the head, arms and chest, he opened fire on his father, Mark Petric. According to his testimony, Daniel then placed the gun in his dad's hands - to deliberately shift suspicion onto Mark and make the events look like an attempted "murder suicide".
Daniel tried to flee in the family's van. However, Daniel's sister discovered the scene, called 911 and testified that her brother killed his mother and tried to kill his father.
In the boy's trial, Petric's defence attorney James Kersey made the unprecedented argument that Halo 3 was to blame for the shooting. "We have a.. normal young man," he said. "Until he starts viewing video games."
Kersey claimed that Petric did not comprehend the fact that death was real or permanent due to his time playing the game. The US national media began to dub him the 'Halo Killer'.
However, the prosecuting attorney sensibly disagreed, and said that Daniel showed no remorse for his actions.
He pointed out that Petric tried to fool the police, framing his father for murder by placing the gun in his hand - not a tactic he could have adopted from the video game, nor the actions of a frenzied killer copying what he had seen on screen.