Suit claiming movie caused shooting tossed outA Louisiana judge yesterday threw out a lawsuit against director Oliver Stone that claimed his movie, “Natural Born Killers,’’ led to a young couple’s bloody crime spree. State Judge Bob Morrison dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds. The lawsuit was brought against the makers of the movie, including Time Warner Entertainment, by the family of a Louisiana store clerk who was shot and paralyzed in a rampage by Sarah Edmonson and her boyfriend Ben Darras. Edmonson, who was captured in a surveillance video firing a bullet into the clerk’s neck, and Darras told authorities they were inspired by “Natural Born Killers,’’ about a crime spree by a young couple. Edmonson and Darras’ spree also included the killing of a Mississippi man. The clerk, Patsy Byers, died of cancer two years after the attack. The makers of the movie “knew it was violent and directed at young people,’’ said the family’s attorney, Joe Simpson. He said he may appeal.
SEC sues Web firm targeting Christian investors Federal regulators have filed a lawsuit against a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Internet company and two executives for allegedly selling $3.9 million of unregistered securities to mostly fundamentalist Christian investors. The complaint, filed in Miami Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, named Families On Line Corp. and Chief Executive Office Mark Thurman and Chief Operating Officer Robert Fiene. Thurman and Fiene were also indicted on federal charges of alleged securities fraud, added the securities regulatory agency, whose request to freeze the defendants’ assets was granted by a federal judge. Attorneys representing the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment. For $19.95 a month, Families On Line subscribers were offered Internet access that filtered sexual content, violence, gambling and other such content, the SEC said in the complaint. From two private placement offerings between July 1999 and December 2000, the defendants raised $3.9 million from the sale of stocks and or rights to buy stock, called warrants, to 410 investors across the United States, “primarily fundamentalist Christians,’’ according to the SEC complaint. “No registration statement has been filed or is in effect with the commission with any of the securities being offered and sold by FOL,’’ the SEC said. The defendants were accused of placing false and misleading documents on FOL’s Internet Web site. Among the misrepresentations and omissions, the SEC alleged, was the failure to disclose that Thurman and Fiene are convicted felons, and the personal use of $1.8 million of investor funds to buy luxury vehicles, vacations and merchandise from adult-oriented stores.
Cat burglar suspect lands on her feetA grand jury in Eugene, Ore. has refused to indict an 85-year-old cat burglar who allegedly stole her neighbor’s feline 10 years ago. Laurie Marie Rice said she was shocked when Bertha Henderson knocked on her door demanding $35 to euthanize the aging animal. Rice had no idea her cat, named Lady, was living six doors away all those years. Henderson declined comment Thursday, but her lawyer, Marie Desmond, said her client was “happy and relieved’’ to hear the case was over. Henderson’s daughter wrote a letter to the court claiming the cat, Lady, was abused and had approached her mother’s home to eat the wet food put outside for neighborhood strays. Henderson could have faced jail time under a state law governing theft of a companion animal. But a seven-member Lane County grand jury declined to prosecute after hearing the evidence against her, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Mortimore. “That’s the end of the matter,’’ he said.