This case first garnered national attention because the bodies of the victims were found on a ranch owned by ABC journalist, Sam Donaldson. The victims lived on the ranch as they were caretakers. The next “shocking” thing about this crime came about when fourteen year old Cody Posey was arrested for the deaths of his father, stepmother and stepsister. Next came the stories of physical and emotional abuse that elicited much support for Cody. One would think that all of this would be enough and yet during my research found one last twist. An attorney by the name of Jack Thompson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against not just Cody but also the creators of the game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as well as Sony, the manufacturer of the Playstation 2. In researching Jack Thompson I realized I could probably have created a whole blog just on him, his filings and his strange behavior. But, we will get to Thompson. First lets talk about Cody Posey.
Few people argue that Cody had a bad childhood. His parents Delbert “Paul” and Carla divorced when he was three years old in 1992. For the next several years his parts were in a contentious fight for custody of their only child. Both of his parents apparently remarried at least once. Paul married a woman named Sandy that seemed to get along well with Cody but they divorced in 1998. Reports state that the custody battle ended in 2000 when Paul “surrendered his parental rights.” First, I suspect that this wording is not necessarily correct. Parents are rarely allowed to simply “surrender” their rights without there being someone else willing to step up such as a step-parent adopting a child. It generally boils down to the fact that, barring a death, children are expected to have two adults in charge of their care. Now, that does not mean that Paul simply did not give up the fight and gave Carla full custody but it seems odd that he would do so completely willingly after fighting for so many years without something else going on that was not reported. There were reports later that at some point Carla had accused Paul of child abuse for spanking Cody with a board over bad grades. Whether this was the issue that made Paul give up the fight for custody is possible. The other reason I do not believe he “surrendered his parental rights” is because just three months after receiving custody of Cody, Carla died in a car accident and Cody was made to go live with his father. If he had given up his rights as it was said it was apparently not in the legal sense because he would not have had a legal right to Cody after the death of his mother. It also seems unlikely that her family, who would garner guardianship of him in 2004, would not have fought for him and if reports are true that Cody, who was ten at the time, begged not to be sent with his father there would have likely been more talk about another custody fight. Instead it seems that without much fanfare Cody was sent to live with Paul and his new wife, Tryone. Tryone had a daughter, Marilea Schmid who was a year younger than Cody.
In October of 2001 Paul took a job working as a ranch hand on property owned by Sam Donaldson. The family lived in a home on the property and by the sounds of things they all did things around the ranch. Donaldson would later say from his assessment the family was like the “All American Family.” He would describe Cody as “withdrawn but like most teenagers.” Then again when asked Donaldson would say that “Paul was a little hard on his son, but that's the way in the Southwest” and “he clearly expected a lot from him.” I am unsure if Donaldson was making excuses about Paul or attempting to explain how he had not seen what clearly so many others did from this “All American Family.”
While doing my research I came along issues in which dates and some events seemed change quite often so I will do my best to tell what happened in July of 2004 the best that I can. It appears that on July 5th Sam Donaldson and his wife drove to their ranch when they could not get a hold of Paul on the telephone. They would arrive in the late afternoon. Donaldson would say that he went to the cabin the family resided in and there was not an answer so he began looking in the windows. He could see blood and evidence of a struggle inside. One article says that he called a friend and then called law enforcement but I have come to believe that this was actually one call and that the friend was law enforcement. Some information says that the bodies of Paul, Tryone and Marilea were not found until the following day, after Cody would confess, but others indicate they were found soon after law enforcement arrived at the ranch. I believe it was more likely to be the latter. Cody would later say in his confession that he had drug the bodies so it is plausible that a smeared blood trail was visible to investigators. Cody would be found the following day at a friends house.
At first it seems that Cody denied any involvement but it did not take long until he confessed and began telling investigators what really happened, or at least his version. According to Cody he had been abused both physically and emotionally for years. He would claim that on the night of July 3rd his father had called him into the master bedroom. Cody would claim when he entered the room he would find his step-mother in the bed naked and his father began encouraging him to have sex with her. He would say that when he refused his father had burned him with a welding rod. To be fair, I never saw anything that stated that a scar or an injury of any kind that could be compared to this and collaborate his story was found. Some reports say that Cody took off, leaving to return later while others state that he had gone to his room for the night avoiding the entire situation. The following day Cody claims he was in the horse stalls when his father came outside and slapped him across the face for not doing the job fast enough. He would claim at this point that he snapped. He grabbed a gun out of Marilea's saddlebag and loaded it.
Cody stated that he went into the house and while Tryone was reading a book on the couch he shot her twice in the head. Whether Cody stated he killed her first because she was in the house and had the ability to call 911 or the prosecutors theorized this was not completely clear to me. The prosecutors would say that this action indicated that Cody knew what he was doing was wrong and had planned it this way. Hearing the gunshots Paul came into the home with Marilea right behind him. Cody then proceeded to shoot both of them. Some reports say all the victims were shot in the head while some are a little shady on where Paul was shot. This could be of importance later. Again, exactly what Cody said and what prosecutors theorized on why he did some things were hazy. Prosecutors would say that Cody stated he had shot Marilea a second time in the head because she had not died with the first shot and because he did not want her “telling” on him.
According to Cody he then drug the bodies out of the home and put them into a bucket of a backhoe. He had planned to bury the bodies somewhere on the property but he could not break the ground. Instead he buried them under a shallow pile of manure. He then changed his clothes and left the property in his father's truck and went to a friends house where he would stay until his arrest.
Many theorize themselves that had Cody's victims only been Paul and Tryone he may have never faced trial. It was the murder of Marilea that angered people the most. While prosecutors would claim this was a cold-blooded, calculated killing the defense would obviously argue otherwise. The defense never argued that Cody was not responsible but said that it was a result of years of abuse. They indicated that Tryone had helped in that abuse and that while Marilea was in their words “The Golden Child” she was encouraged to keep an eye on Cody everywhere, including school, and report back to the adults anything she saw. The prosecution would show the jury family photo where everyone was smiling and stated that proved their point that Cody was not abused in any way.
The defense would call over forty witnesses, including Cody, to the stand. Those witnesses would include teacher, classmates, fellow ranch hands and even Cody's ex-stepmother, Sandy. Many would testify seeing abuse from Paul first hand to Cody. It was said he was hit with shovels, lariats, fists, hay hooks or whatever else happened to be nearby at the time. Many also testified that Cody was often emotionally abused with demeaning words to him. His ex-stepmother testified that while married to Paul there were several times in which she had to step in and stop Paul from “mean mean and abusive” to Cody. The defense would also call to the stand a witness who would testify that there was incestuous pornography found on Paul's computer in the home. It was said that not only was his computer the only computer in the home that was connected to the Internet but that all the times in which this type of website was accessed were times in which the children would have been in school. The defense would argue that this would give credence to Cody's statement about what had happened the night before the murders. For their part it seems that the prosecutors said little more than the stories of child abuse were “exaggerated.” Of course they had their own witness, like Paul's brother, who would testify that he never saw any signs of abuse.
Cody had been tried in youth court but if he was convicted the judge had the ability to sentence him as an adult or decide on a sentence through the youthful offender program. When it was all said and done, after twelve hours of deliberation, Cody would be convicted but at various degrees for the murders. He would be convicted of first degree murder in the death of Marilea. She was looked upon as being the most innocent of innocent victims. He would be convicted of second degree murder in the death of Tryone and for his father he would be convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The fact that the verdicts were so staggered told people that it appears that when it came to Paul at least the jury believed Cody's story. Again though the issue seemed to come down to the murder of Marilea. He would also be convicted of four counts of evidence tampering. It would be another three weeks before anyone knew if the judge intended to sentence Cody as an adult, giving him a life sentence without parole, or as a juvenile. If he was sentenced as a juvenile he could have received anything from probation to confinement until his twenty-first birthday. It appears that many of the victim's family member not only wanted him to be sentenced as an adult but upon conviction believed that he would be.
On the other side was most of Cody's family from his mother's side who believed that he had been severely abused by his father for many years. They also believed the defense in the evidence they presented about the computer images, as well as treatment from both Tryone and Marilea. Surprisingly to most even Marilea's father, Jake Schmid, not only believed that both Tryone and Paul had abused Cody, but that they had enlisted Marilea's help. He was quoted as saying that he believed the adults had used Marilea as their pawn and she likely felt she had little choice, but he understood Cody also. Jake would ask for leniency in sentencing. Another surprising thing, that upset many of the victim's family members, was the support Cody had received in the community and really around the world. The trial had been shown on television so millions of people saw the evidence and those who had testified, including Cody. Outside the courthouse there were people lined up carrying signs like “Free Cody.”
On February 23, 2006 Cody would be sentenced to psychiatric treatment at a youth facility to which he would be held no later than his twenty-first birthday. In reality he was eligible for parole in a mere ninety days. He would not get out early however and was held until October of 2010 when he was twenty-one. It was said that while incarcerated he had obtained his high school diploma and two years worth of college credits. It is unclear where Cody is now or if he continues to go by the same name.
While doing the search for Cody I came across a Topix website stating “Cody Posey arrested again.” If you do the same know that this is not the same Cody Posey. Some questioned that at the very end of the comments but no one had responded back. Like them, I too was confused by this in the beginning but determined this could not be the same Cody Posey. The other Cody Posey had been arrest for a DUI but apparently as a juvenile had committed a murder and had been given a very lenient sentence by the judge. As I recall this Cody Posey lived, or at least committed his crimes in Texas, and at a time in which the other Cody Posey was obviously still incarcerated.
There is much arguing among people on the Internet on first whether Cody's story of abuse was valid but also about not just his crime, but his sentence. There are those who adamantly believe that Cody was nothing more than a cold blooded killer as the prosecution stated and committed the crime solely because he did like having to do chores and have discipline. Then there are those that while sympathize that Marilea was a victim of his crimes completely believe Cody snapped due to long running abuse. Some believe that Marilea was a tool for the adults to use against Cody and it is possible that he held resentment towards her for not aiding him. Others believe that it is possible that Marilea too was abused, or at least molested, and by reporting on Cody she kept herself out of fire. It seems no one will ever know for sure.
In the beginning I told you about an attorney named Jack Thompson and said I would go more into him later. Well, it is later. I came across his name when I found an article that stated that on September 25, 2006 a wrongful death lawsuit was filed. Thompson was the attorney representing some of the victim's families. The suit named Cody of course but it also named the companies Rockstar and Sony. Rockstar is the creator of the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Sony is the manufacturer of the Playstation 2. The suit alleged that the game had made Cody more aggressive and more efficient in his shooting of his victims. Of course even on the surface I looked at this with a snicker, knowing the likelihood of it getting any further than a filing, at least against the companies, was slim. When I was done researching Cody's case I wanted to determine what ever happened with this lawsuit so I did a specific search for it. I learned that within just a few months the courts had dismissed at least the portion to the companies if for nothing more than jurisdictional issues. If you know anything about the law, you know that jurisdiction is the number one rule in any case. But, curiously in that search I was seeing things about Jack Thompson so I decided to do another search specifically on him.
The first thing I learned is that he has been permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Florida. It was said that over the years not only had he filed several cases that were considered to be frivolous, but he had also filed cases against the Bar itself saying some of their “rules” or “laws” were unconstitutional or in essence, bad. When the Bar permanently took his license in July of 2008 they said it was for “inappropriate conduct including making false statements and disparaging and humiliating litigants.”
Jack Thompson seemed to have issues with just about everyone and was prone to filing lawsuits on a whim. At one point he sued a radio station for harassment. He went as far as taping the station for eight straight months and documented every time his name was mentioned. He had allegedly made some sort of agreement with the station at some point and stated that they agreed to pay him $5,000 every time his name was mentioned. It is unclear and very doubtful that this agreement existed, at least in the way Thompson alleged. In the end he attempted to sue for $200 MILLION dollars. When the then State Attorney, Janet Reno, declined to prosecute the DJ from the radio station Thompson decided to run against her. For his part he allegedly made comments about Reno's possible sexual orientation and then later filed a police report alleging battery when she had placed her hand on his shoulder and responded to one of his comments. He continued harassment to the point that one of his next targets got the Supreme Court of Florida to issue an order for a psych evaluation on him. He apparently passed and later used that to proclaim that he was the “only officially certified sane lawyer in Florida.”
In between all of these antics Thompson had become a thorn in the side of other people. He continually went after issues revolving around rap music and video games. He had filed cases long before the one pertaining to Cody Posey in 2006, to the point in which he would claim undue influence from games such as GTA and others. All have been dismissed and the gaming companies have been fighting him for years. It almost seems to be an obsession. In fact, Cody Posey's attorney would later say that Thompson repeatedly contacted him throughout the case all but begging him to use the defense of the video game in the trial. The attorney stated he never believed that the video game (I cannot even say it was proven Cody even played that game) had any influence and refused to use it as a defense, believing the abuse Cody suffered to not only be more accurate but more believable. Keep in mind that these were not just minor suits Thompson was filing. The case stemming from Cody Posey was asking for $600 million.
It seems unclear if Thompson ever had a law license in another state and continues to practice anywhere. It was said that in 2009 he attempted to get his license back in Florida but failed. His Wikipedia page refers to him as an “activist” now, some have referred to him as a “kook.” I will let you reader look him up and decide.