Law: Did The Music Say Do It?

A trial tests whether a rock LP subliminally prompted suicides

Raymond Belknap, 18, was excited about the Christmas present he was giving his best friend, James Vance, 20: a heavy-metal rock record by the British band Judas Priest. For five hours the young men listened to the raucous, apocalyptic throb of the music while they smoked marijuana and split a dozen beers. Violent fantasies were nothing new to either of them. Vance had choked his mother on one occasion and hit her with a hammer on another; Belknap had stolen money and a van and exposed himself to women; both talked of leaving their hometown of Sparks, Nev. (pop. 41,000), to...