Okay, the band mentioned in here is Slipknot. I am not going to get into a big discussion about whether Slipknot is or is not metal, that's not my purpose. Here's the brief rundown. A 17 year old is being charged with murdering his grandparents and then setting their house on fire. The police seized some evidence against the 17 year old including a Slipknot CD.
The report goes on to state in the last paragraph of the article:
He said Smith admitted to investigators when he was arrested that he was into heavy metal music.
The CD was taken as evidence, whether that means that it will be used to possibly establish mens rea or not remains to be seen.
DOES MUSIC CONSTITUTE RELEVANT EVIDENCE IN PROSECUTING AN INDIVIDUAL FOR A CRIME?
To answer this question, we need to know what "relevant" means. I am licensed to practice in Nebraska, so I will be using Nebraska rules. I would imagine Oklahoma's rules are very similar, if not exactly the same.
In Nebraska, evidence is relevant if it has "any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." That comes from Neb. Rev. Stat. §27-401.
It's quite the mouthful but what it means is that there is a very low standard for determining whether evidence is relevant or not. Basically, if has ANY probative value, it will probably be admitted.
So basically, we are looking at whether listening to Slipknot would have any tendency to cause this young individual to kill his grandparents and burn their house down. To prove this, the prosecutor need only explain some sort of rational connection between the listening to Slipknot and the killing the grandparents. The prosecutor may do this by a relying on experience, logic, intuition, common sense, or even expert testimony. Basically, if he can find an expert willing to testify that violent imagery in music makes it more probable that an impressionable young person would commit a violent act, then he can get the music in to evidence.
Well then we have the issue of how to use this evidence. If the prosecutor were to use this evidence, then he would have to draw some kind of connection between the music and the act. For that, he would probably have to look at the lyrics and pull particular passages and then offer the CD into evidence. If he cannot find any violent lyrics, this probably does not get offered.
Music tastes have been offered in a number of criminal trials before. Look no further than the famous West Memphis Three cases. As much as we metalheads state that our music tastes do not influence our actions, the fact is that it has been used in courts of law to do prove just that. Our musical taste is potentially relevant information. Whether it tells the whole story is a different matter, but it can be used in conjunction with other evidence.