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Daniel Petric gets 23 years


ELYRIA — Daniel Petric was sentenced Tuesday to 23 years to life in prison for killing his mother and wounding his father during a shooting he blamed on the video game “Halo 3.”

Daniel, 17, choked back tears several times during a hearing before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, including when he stood up to speak. He stood for a moment before whispering to his attorney, James Kersey, and sitting back down.

“I can’t say anything,” Daniel said.

Daniel also become emotional as his father, the Rev. Mark Petric, pleaded for leniency for his son.

“I know without any doubt that he has severe regret, remorse and guilt from what he did to his mom and I that evening,” Mark Petric said.

The elder Petric also was overcome by emotion during the hearing, pausing from reading his prepared statement to tell his son, “I love you, Danny,” in a tear-strained voice before he continued.

Mark Petric said he and his family have forgiven Daniel, who was 16 at the time of the shooting but was tried as an adult for what he did on Oct. 20, 2007.

Kersey argued throughout the trial that Daniel was addicted to violent video games, particularly the sci-fi shooting game “Halo 3,” which he had played at friends’ homes, sometimes for as long as 18 hours a day.

“It’s an addiction to him,” he said.

During the trial, police testified that Daniel had a copy of the game that his parents had confiscated with him when he was pulled over after fleeing his family’s Brighton Township home after the shooting.

He told Wellington police officers that his father had shot his mother before turning the gun on himself.

Kersey renewed his argument Tuesday that Daniel snapped and killed his mom and shot his dad.

Daniel, he said, was so blinded by video games that he didn’t realize “that his parents might be dead — they might never come back,” Kersey said.

But Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said he didn’t buy the video game addiction argument.

“This is not the case of a drug fiend’s stash being taken away,” he said.

Daniel, he said, planned the murder of his parents for at least a week beforehand and had to steal the key to the gun lockbox where his father kept his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.

On the night of the shooting, he walked into the family room, told his parents to close their eyes because he had a surprise for them and, with a steady hand, opened fire, shooting his father once in the head before shooting Sue Petric three times, Cillo said.

Daniel then tried to frame his father by telling him to take the gun in his hand to make it appear to be a murder-suicide, Cillo said.

Daniel later told mental health experts evaluating his competency that things “blew up” in his face when his father didn’t die and his sister and her husband arrived at the home earlier than expected, Cillo said.

The couple arrived as Daniel was staging the scene, and he fled after his sister’s husband took the gun from him.

“He admitted that his mother was likely to allow him to play the games. His father would likely be the problem,” Cillo said. “What does that make Susan Petric? Collateral damage?”

Cillo asked Burge to sentence Daniel to the maximum sentence — a life term without parole for the aggravated murder of his mother, plus additional time for trying to kill his father and trying to stage the scene.

When Burge found Daniel guilty in January, he said he would have found the boy not guilty by reason of insanity if the law would have allowed him to do so. He said again Tuesday that he believed violent video games led Daniel to shoot his parents.

“I feel confident that if there were no such thing as violent video games, I wouldn’t know Daniel Petric,” Burge said before imposing his sentence.

Burge also complained that the state legislature had made it impossible for Daniel to be tried as a juvenile instead of as an adult and railed against radio talk show hosts who he said inflamed issues such as this. He said he didn’t know why politicians took such a hard-line stance on juvenile offenders.

“Intellectual cowardice, moral bankruptcy, but that would just be speculation,” he said.

The Petric family declined comment through court officials after the hearing, but John Otero Jr., who served as Daniel’s legal adviser throughout the case, said they were as happy as could be expected at Burge’s decision.

“It was the best sentence we could hope for,” Otero said.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said the Petric family had pushed him to lower the charges even before trial so that Daniel would receive a lighter sentence. But Will said his office had to speak for Sue Petric and Lorain County residents, not just Daniel’s surviving family members.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

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  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Oct. 20, 2007

    Daniel Petric shoots his mother, Sue Petric, and father, the Rev. Mark Petric, at the family’s Brighton Township home. Susan Petric dies from her wounds, while Mark Petric survives a gunshot wound to the head. Daniel flees the scene when his sister and her husband arrive at the house. When he is arrested a short time later by Wellington police he tells officers his father shot his mother before turning the gun on himself.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Oct. 26, 2007

    Daniel is allowed by a county juvenile judge to visit his mother at the funeral home.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Oct. 27, 2007

    Sue Petric is laid to rest.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Nov. 9, 2007

    Daniel’s attorney, James Kersey, attempts to have his client plead guilty in county Juvenile Court, a move prosecutors reject. Daniel is later bound over to be tried as an adult.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Nov. 16, 2007

    Mark Petric is released from the hospital.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Feb. 27, 2008

    Kersey enters a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for Daniel.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Dec. 15, 2008

    Daniel’s trial begins before county Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who hears the case instead of a jury. Daniel’s defense centers on his playing the video game “Halo 3,” which his parents had barred him from playing.

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Dec. 17, 2008

    Daniel’s trial ends

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    Jan. 12, 2009

    Burge finds Daniel guilty of aggravated murder and other charges. Burge said he believed the video game defense offered by Kersey had merit, but that the law prevented him from finding Daniel not guilty by reason of insanity

  • A History of Daniel Petric's Case

    June 16, 2009

    Burge sentences Daniel to 23 years to life in prison, the minimum that his family had requested. Prosecutors had urged that Daniel receive life without parole plus another 21 years in prison.

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