Re: [CAR-PGa] Re: Stephanie Crowe

Thanks for the quick update on new events in the Crowe case.  It is the broad net of CAR-PGa members who get this information out.  Every member cannot spot every story.

There are a couple of things in your second post.  First, appellate court records are of value only as a record of appellate court decisions.  Their purpose is to check the law - was due process observed in evidence presented, treatment of the accused, etc., not matters of fact.  There is an apparent exception in matters such as suppressed evidence, but even there appellate involvement is that it was suppressed, not what it contained).

On reading your second post, I immediately went to the archives and pulled the Crowe file.  The first out of the file was from Bill Walton's The Escapist, for 12 January 1999.  It contained, in the third paragraph, "Prosecutors say the killing reflected a brother's hatred of his sister and three boys' interest in role-playing fantasy games like 'Dungeons & Dragons.'"  Prosecutors work from what the police give them.  Actually you would have a better case in that D&D was incidental in Crowe's life, video games were his main interest, and he also had an abundance of Magic: the Gathering cards.  They were mentioned prominently in the "trial by media" stages.

Granted, the police didn't say to themselves that here are three kids who play D&D, let's railroad them - at least as far as we know.  However, they did arrest three kids without notifying their parents, did not mention their Miranda rights, did not provide them legal council, and subjected them to ten-hour interrogations filled with lies about the evidence they had.  D&D "evidence" was repeatedly mentioned both to the boys during the inquisition and to the public through the prosecutors and media.  If it is mentioned in print or broadcast, especially if to a public already preconditioned to believe that games are evil, there is a connection.

And yes, it is legal to lie during interrogations in that there is no law to prevent it.  However, why would you find that were no impediment to justice there when I doubt that you would condone a GM lying about a situation to the players in a game (in direct description, not what an NPC said) in order to get a total party kill?  Are real human beings of less value than the fictitious characters of mythical species in an imaginary story in a game?

The best account is the six part investigative report by Mark Sauer and John Wilkins in the San Diego Union-Tribune, starting on 11 May 1999.  The CAR-PGa archives file on this case is some 3/8" thick under compression.  It takes a lot longer than two hours to read.

You make some good points, but they are not convincing enough to remove from the file.  Sooner or later, it will be brought up as proof of the danger of RPG, depending on the public to have forgotten the Court TV program on the subject and thus the fact that the kids were exonerated.

Paul Cardwell

From: M. Alan Thomas II <>
To: CAR-PGa <>
Sent: Thu, January 20, 2011 1:22:18 AM
Subject: [CAR-PGa] Re: Stephanie Crowe

I've just spent a bit over two hours reading the appellate court
decision in the Crowe case and quite a bit of time on news reports
before that, and it seems clear to me that the fact that the kids
played D&D not only had nothing to do with the crime (obviously, given
that they were innocent!), but honestly doesn't look like it had
anything with the police's actions, either. Unless someone can point
out to me a cop stating that they went after the kids because they
were gamers or a copy relying heavily on the game during the infamous
interrogations, this looks like a case of cops gone wild enough that
they would have acted the same regardless of what the boys' hobbies
were; we can't assume that just because the victims were gamers, it
was anti-gaming prejudice, given that one of our primary truths is
that the mere presence of gaming does not prove causation.

That being said, the decision doesn't care about motive because it's
not trying to prove anything, so there may be things it left out. (It
did hold that there was a conspiracy to wrongfully convict, but it
didn't say /why/. News reports have their own theories not involving
gaming.) I'd like to hear from people who have files on this case if
they have any evidence to suggest that this one shouldn't be taken off
of our own "trophy list" of people hurt because they were gamers.

In service,
M. Alan Thomas II

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