Life imitating art: a tragedy - East Valley Tribune: News

Life imitating art: a tragedy

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Posted: Monday, December 5, 2005 9:23 pm | Updated: 8:06 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Who do you think you are? When regular people try to be like celebrities, it can go terribly wrong. HILLARY RHODES reports.

A man impersonating rapper Eminem is facing life in prison for a murder inspired by the music video "Stan."

In the video, an obsessive fan ties up his girlfriend, throws her in the trunk of his car and drives it over a bridge.

In real life, Christopher Duncan, 21, appeared to imitate the Eminem fan in the video when he beat law student and aspiring singer Jagdip Najran, 26, with an iron baseball bat and then stuffed her body in a suitcase. Duncan had the same hair color, style and tattoos as the rapper. He was convicted of murder and set to be sentenced Monday.

It's not the first time dramatic consequences have come out of a re-creation of Hollywood or celebrity obsession gone wrong. Here are six other examples of life imitating art, with devastating effects:


In the movie: The cast performs stunts that are often dangerous or crude, based on the MTV show of the same name.

In real life: Stephen Paul Rauen, 15, was killed after being ejected from the top of a friend's car and run over in New Mexico, in December, 2002. He had jumped onto the hood, imitating a stunt he and a friend had seen in the movie, police said.


On the show: An episode showed a "human barbecue" stunt in which a man puts on a fire-retardant suit, covers himself with steaks and gets on a grill.

In real life: A 14-year-old boy from Minnesota was burned over 65 percent of his body after setting himself on fire using mineral spirits and a lighter to mimic the episode from the MTV show.


In the game: Players engage in illegal, violent activity including stealing cars and shooting police.

In real life: When Devin Moore was arrested on suspicion of car theft, he responded by fatally shooting two officers and a dispatcher -- the entire night shift of the Fayette Police Department in Alabama. His defense linked the killings to repeated playing of the video games. He was sentenced to death.


In the paintings: Manson depicted the "Black Dahlia" murder of 1940s Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short.

In real life: Luke Mitchell, an obsessive Manson fan, was convicted this year of murdering his girlfriend, Jodi Jones, in 2003, when they were both 14. Jones was stripped, tied up and stabbed to death in her home in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. The murder bore similarities to that of Short.


In the music: The album "Stained Class" was accused of containing subliminal messages that said "try suicide" and "let's be dead" when played backward.

In real life: Raymond Belknap, 18, and his friend, James Vance, 20, committed suicide by shooting themselves in a church playground after allegedly listening to Judas Priest music for several hours in December, 1985. Ultimately a lawsuit against the British heavy metal band and its record company was dismissed.


In the movie: Vampire characters suck human blood.

In real life: Daniel Sterling, 28, was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder after repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend Lisa Stellwagen with a serrated dagger and then sucking her blood in November 1994, according to the Los Angeles Times. His lawyers argued he was mentally unstable and had become mesmerized by the film the day before the attack.


Hillary Rhodes is an asap reporter.


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