A song by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony shouldn’t have been allowed into evidence as
jurors contemplated sending a man to his death, a lawyer in Jefferson County,
Missouri argued on Thursday.
Michael Tisius was convicted in June 2000 for
the murders of two people and his lawyer, Deborah Wafer argued that the state
failed to show a connection between the content of the song played, "Mo
Murdah" and the murders.
"Mike has been listening to rap music and
this particular group for years," Wafer said. "The only thing we have
here is that Mike liked rap music. It’s not saying, ‘Listen to this
record and go kill.’"
Wafer argued that using the rap song to connect
Tisius to the murder was like using a violent Shakespearan play or reading a
newspaper for the same purpose.
Prosecutors argued that Tisius had listened
to the song for 45 minutes before the murders occurred. The prosecutors said
that they didn’t believe the song actually made Tisius kill, but it helped proved
what his state of mind and his intentions were.
"These facts were relevant to show his
state of mind," Morris said. "He was listening and repeatedly listening
to a piece of music that had very violent overtones."
Defense attorney’s are seeking to have Tisius’
death penalty commuted to life and said in legal documents that "the state
made reference to rap music to show that Tisius was worthy of death because
rap music is widely viewed as connected to gang violence and illegal activities."
The state said it was not implying that anyone
who listened to a certain type of music endorsed the actions or content within
the song and said even if the song had not been played during the sentencing
phase of the trial, Tisius still would have been sentenced to death.