Ben Darras is the convicted killer most closely associated to the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers. He is currently serving two life sentences at the federal prison in the state of Mississippi where he has since become a born-again Christian.
On March 5, 1995, Darras and his girlfriend Sarah Edmondson (both 18) spent the night at her family's cabin in northeastern Oklahoma, dropping acid and watching Natural Born Killers. The following morning, they left the cabin armed with a .38-caliber revolver. On March 7, they arrived at Hernando, Mississippi, when Darras killed cotton-mill manager William Savage by shooting him twice in the head at point blank range. They then traveled to Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Edmondson shot Patsy Byers, a convenience store cashier. Byers survived the attack but she was rendered paraplegic. It subsequently transpired that Savage had been a friend of author John Grisham; Grisham publicly accused Stone of being irresponsible in making the film, claiming that filmmakers should be held accountable for their work when it incites viewers to commit violent acts. In July 1995, Byers took legal actions against Edmondson and Darras, but by March 1996, she amended her lawsuit to include to Oliver Stone and the Time Warner company.
With the advice of Grisham, Byers used a "product liability" claim, stating that the filmmakers "'knew, or should have known that the film would cause and inspire people […] to commit crimes such as the shooting of Patsy Ann Byers." Grisham himself stated in an article called "Unnatural Killers" in the April 1996 edition of the Oxford American magazine, "The last hope of imposing some sense on Hollywood will come through another great American tradition, the lawsuit. A case can be made that there exists a direct causal link between Natural Born Killers and the death of Bill Savage. It will take only one large verdict against the likes of Oliver Stone, and then the party will be over." On January 23, 1997, on the grounds that filmmakers and production companies are protected by the First Amendment, the case was dismissed, but Byers immediately appealed the decision, and on May 15, 1998, the Intermediate Louisiana Court of Appeals overturned that decision, claiming that Byers did indeed have a valid case against the filmmakers (Byers herself had died of cancer in late 1997). However, on March 12, 2001, judge Robert Morrison dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence that either Time Warner or Oliver Stone intended to incite violence. In June 2002, the Louisiana Court of Appeal turned down an appeal from Byers' attorneys, and the suit was officially closed.