A Missouri man was sentenced to 24 years in prison on September 19, 2018 for the murder of a neighbor who he thought was playing loud music no one else could hear.
29 year-old James C. Blanton, who had originally been charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. State mental health experts had reportedly found that Blanton was autistic, but competent enough to stand trial.
Blanton wore a bullet-proof vest & a hoodie when he shot and killed 35 year-old Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang on December 13, 2015.
Chang, a tech support specialist for Monsanto, was home watching a movie with his girlfriend at an apartment complex in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights when Blanton knocked on the door complaining about “loud bass music”. There was an argument, then Blanton shot and killed Chang.
He then sat outside Chang’s apartment and waited for police to arrive, and was cooperative with police on the scene. He reportedly said that he had killed Chang in self-defense. A handgun reportedly used in the shooting was recovered by police.
Police later said Blanton wanted Chang to ‘turn the bass down.’ But Chang wasn’t playing any loud music. It’s not known if the movie Chang and his girlfriend were watching could have been a source of any loud music.
Blanton had reportedly also complained other times to other neighbors about loud music, those interviewed by the St. Louis Post Dispatch say. Yet no one but Blanton could ever hear the “loud bass music” he complained about.
During the investigation, police reportedly found open web pages pertaining to stand your ground laws which Blanton had visited, including a news article about an incident in which another man cited stand your ground after shooting a neighbor over loud music.
Several incidents caused by real music have ended in tragedy. In 2010, 46 year-old retired firefighter Raul Rodriguez complained about loud music coming from a children’s birthday party in Houston. He told a police dispatcher he was “standing his ground” as he fired a gun at a group of unarmed men, killing one and wounding two others.
Rodriguez was convicted of murder, sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2013, then won a retrial after the conviction was overturned because of flaws in jury instructions. In November, 2015, he was convicted again.
Then, on Black Friday in 2012, 46 year-old Michael Dunn opened fire on a group of teenagers in an SUV during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Florida, killing 17 year-old Jordan Davis.
Dunn claimed self-defense, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Dunn is currently appealing his sentence.