Lawyers Refiling Complaint Blaming Slayer For Girl's Death

Studies on music's effect on youth now included in amended papers charging that heavy-metal band influenced killers.

Lawyers representing the parents of a 15-year-old girl who was brutally killed by three boys claiming Slayer made them do it are taking another crack at the heavy-metal group after a judge ruled that they didn't present enough evidence to take the case to trial the first time around.

Allen Hutkin said he will file a third amended complaint for damages in San Luis Obispo (California) Superior Court on Friday (March 23) following Judge Jeffrey Burke's ruling in January that cited insufficient evidence for the case to proceed to a civil trial (see "Slayer, Label Liable For Murder? Judge Demands More Evidence"). Hutkin and the girl's parents, David and Lisanne Pahler, are accusing Slayer, their label and other industry and label entities associated with the group of intentionally marketing and distributing "death metal" to minors.

Hutkin's co-counsel on the case, Patrick Coughlin, is a lawyer with Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP, the firm that won a suit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. after proving the company's animated Joe Camel character helped big tobacco market cigarettes to minors.

Although the judge didn't completely dismiss the case when the complaint was first presented, he did request more evidence, and Hutkin believes his revised, 50-page complaint will suffice. In it, the lawyer provides additional studies and research showing the destructiveness of the music and how it's targeted to youth, particularly citing claims made in a September 2000 Federal Trade Commission report about the marketing practices of music, movies and video games. The new document also offers further examples of Slayer's devilish lyrics and quotes from the band explaining satanic practices in previous interviews.

A spokesperson for Slayer's management said Thursday that the band had no comment.

Once the complaint has been filed, the defendants have 30 days to challenge the complaint. The plaintiffs then have 30 days to respond to their charges before the defendants have another 20 days to file their reply. At that point, the judge will schedule another hearing approximately one to two months later, according to Hutkin.

If the case ever goes to trial, because of its First Amendment concerns, Hutkin believes an appellate court will ultimately settle the matter.

"We're not out to censor these people from making this music," the lawyer said. "We're saying [they] can continue to make this music, just don't target youth. It's the same thing as an X-rated movie: You can still make X-rated movies, you just can't show it to kids."