Natural Born Killers Suit Dismissed

ByABC News
March 13, 2001, 7:18 PM

March 12 -- A Louisiana judge has tossed out a lawsuit that alleges that director Oliver Stone and his 1994 film Natural Born Killers drove a teenage couple to go on a killing spree.

The director's work is protected under the First Amendment, said Judge Robert Morrison, adding that the movie's creators did not intend Natural Born Killers to incite violence in viewers.

The family of Patsy Byers, a convenience store clerk who was shot during a 1995 robbery, claimed that the gory movie inspired Sarah Edmondson and Ben Darras to go on a rampage.

Edmondson, who shot Byers, and her boyfriend, Darras, told police they watched the film several times before committing their crimes. Natural Born Killers follows a murderous, mentally unstable couple (portrayed by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) as they shoot their way across the country.

Edmondson and Darras were both 18 at the time of the shooting. The defendants reiterated that Edmondson did not shoot Byers until three days after seeing the movie, and that she did so because her boyfriend persuaded her to.

Byers was left a quadriplegic after the shooting and later died of cancer.

According to The Associated Press, Edmondson is serving a 35-year prison sentence, while Darras is doing life for murdering a Mississippi man during the same crime spree.

An attorney for the Byers family said the dismissal may be appealed.