ELYRIA — Daniel Petric shot his parents -- killing his mother -- because they wouldn't allow him to play the violent video game Halo 3, prosecutors told a judge at the boy's murder trial Monday.
The trial, on charges of murder and attempted murder, opened Monday for Petric, 17, of Brighton Township. He is being tried without a jury before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty because of Petric's age. In their opening state ments, prosecutors outlined this version of events surrounding the shooting:
In September 2007, Daniel, then 16, had sneaked out of his bedroom window to purchase the game at a store against his father's orders. When he returned home, his parents caught him with the game and took it from him. His father, Mark, a minister at New Life Assembly of God in Wellington, put the game in a lockbox in a closet where he also kept a 9mm handgun, according to prosecutors.
About a month later, on Oct. 20, 2007, Daniel used his father's key to open the lockbox and remove the gun and the game. The boy shot his parents, killing his mother and gravely wounding his father. As his father lay wounded, Daniel tried to place the gun in his father's hand.
Daniel fled after his sister and her husband arrived at the house, taking the Halo 3 game with him.
Mark and Susan Petric
Also on Monday, a tearful Mark Petric testified that his son came up behind him as he sat on the couch and said, "Would you guys close your eyes? I have a surprise for you."
Petric, 45, said he "expected a pleasant surprise" and closed his eyes. Then his head went numb. As the blood poured from a bullet wound in his head, he realized his wife, Susan Petric, 43, was lying dead on a nearby loveseat, shot in the head, arms and chest.
Petric said his son shoved the gun into his hand saying, "Hey Dad, here's your gun. Take it."
Mark Petric broke down on the witness stand as he said he believes he survived the shooting only because his daughter and husband arrived at the house to watch an Indians game. He heard his son telling them they couldn't come inside.
"You guys shouldn't come in," Mark Petric recalled his son saying. "Mom and Dad had a big argument."
The couple, Heidi and Andrew Archer, testified they heard a moan - possibly their names being groaned - from inside the house, pushed their way in and found the elder Petric wounded and his wife dead. The elder Petric, through his shattered jaw, managed to say his son had shot him, while Daniel tried to blame his father.
Heidi Archer called 9-1-1 and then realized that Daniel had picked up the handgun that had been lying on the couch. Her husband took the gun from the boy, who gave it up without resistance.
The boy ran out of the house and fled in the family van. He was caught by Wellington police a short time later, the Halo 3 game still on the front seat.
Daniel showed little emotion throughout the trial except when his mother's autopsy photos were flashed on a large screen. He bowed his head and stared at his hands for about 20 minutes while the photos were discussed.
Petric was allowed to visit his son in jail over the past year. He said his son has apologized. "Dad, I'm so sorry for what I did to Mom, to you and to the family," Daniel said, according to his father. "I'm so glad you are alive."
"You're my son," Petric responded. "You're my boy."
He said his wife and their son had a very close relationship.
"He was always her little boy," Petric told the judge.
Heidi Archer said the family has forgiven her brother and want him to come home because the family cannot heal until they are all together.
Daniel's lawyer, James Kersey, gave a short opening statement. He said his client had been under great stress at the time of the shooting because of a snowboarding accident that resulted in a severe staph infection. It left Daniel with such severe spinal damage that the slightest injury could leave him paralyzed.
Daniel was homebound for a year with nothing to do but watch television and play video games, Kersey said. It was during that time that he became fascinated with the Halo series and would play them for hours at friends' houses. His father forbade the games, saying that were too violent and sexually explicit.