Judge Says Slayer Not Obscene, Dismisses Lawsuit

Band, its label and others were accused of marketing harmful adult material to young people.

A lawsuit accusing thrash-masters Slayer, Columbia Records and other industry entities of marketing and distributing death metal to minors was thrown out on Monday by a San Luis Obispo (California) Superior Court judge.

The precedent-setting case won't end there, however, as the plaintiff's lawyer said he intends to file an appeal. The initial suit was filed in 1996 by the parents of 15-year-old Elyse Pahler, who was murdered the year before by three boys who claimed listening to Slayer inspired them to commit the crime.

The suit doesn't blame the minors, who were sentenced to prison for 25 years to life, for the girl's death — rather, it alleges that the killing may have been avoided had they not been marketing targets of "adult-oriented" material.

Judge E. Jeffrey Burke, however, didn't consider Slayer's music obscene, indecent or directly harmful to minors, so the marketing of such music to minors was therefore ruled to be legal.

Allen Hutkin, attorney for the Pahlers, predicted the case might be eventually decided in the appellate courts based on the First Amendment concerns inherent in it. He said he plans to file his appeal in the next 30 to 60 days.

In January, the judge required Hutkin to revise his complaint against Slayer and their co-defendants, citing a need for more sufficient evidence. Hutkin filed the amended complaint in March (see "Lawyers Refiling Complaint Blaming Slayer For Girl's Death").