FAYETTE, Ala. – A judge sentenced a man to die Thursday for the murders of two officers and a dispatcher at a rural police station, slayings the victims' families blame partly on the killer's obsession with a violent video game.
Devin Moore (search) showed no emotion as the judge sentenced him to death by injection, but he apologized beforehand to his victims' relatives.
"I am so sorry. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me," the 20-year-old said in a low voice.
In June 2003, Moore murdered the entire night shift of the Fayette Police Department: officers Arnold Strickland, 55, and James Crump, 40, and dispatcher Leslie "Ace" Mealer, 38.
Moore had been arrested on suspicion of car theft. Prosecutor Chris McCool said Moore grabbed one officer's gun and shot the three men simply because he didn't want to spend a weekend in jail.
"If triple murder doesn't warrant the death penalty, your honor, nothing ever will," McCool said.
With the death sentence, the victims' relatives smiled, hugged and thanked prosecutors. A sister of Moore cried silently on the other side of the courtroom.
A brother of Crump said he was pleased with the sentence and unmoved by Moore's apology. "He smiled at us. If I'd done that I couldn't smile," Tony Crump said.
Moore confessed to the slayings, but his defense linked the killings to a childhood of mental and physical abuse and repeated playing of video games from the "Grand Theft Auto" series, in which players steal cars and shoot police.
The judge barred testimony about the possible effects of "Grand Theft Auto" (search) on Moore's actions, but the victims' families have sued companies that make and distribute the video and game equipment.
Defense attorney Jim Standridge urged the judge to be lenient, noting Moore was only 18 at the time of the crime.
Standridge said grounds for appeal include the decision to exclude video-game testimony and the racial makeup of Moore's all-white jury. Moore is black, as was Crump; the other victims were white.