The 20 Most Secretly Brilliant Stupid Criminals

#20. The Matrix Defense

The Stupid Criminal:

In July of 2002, Tonda Lynn Ansley of Hamilton, Ohio shot her landlady in the head. This is generally fatal.

Ansley told police, "They commit a lot of crimes in The Matrix." Following her lead, Ansley's attorney reasoned that the "our world is just an illusion generated by our machine overlords" argument was bulletproof and used it as the cornerstone of an insanity defense. They claimed that Ansley thought her landlady was part of a scheme to "brainwash and murder" her while in reality everyone was presumably living in pods of red goo.

On the surface this case seems to echo John Hinckley's famous "Taxi Driver Defense," but there are a few subtle differences we would like to point out: Hinckley claimed he tried to kill President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster by emulating the character of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. Tonda Lynn Ansley, on the other hand, shot her landlady in the face because she saw Keanu Reeves jump over buildings and stop bullets with his mind in The Matrix.

We'd like to imagine the above paragraph is a word for word transcription of the prosecutions closing argument, with added pauses while they tried to stifle their own laughter about how easy their job was.

The Secretly Brilliant:

Except it worked. Ansley's defense was able to prove that she believed she was inside a computer simulation, and as such felt she was entitled to waste anyone around her that could possibly prove a threat. A jury of her peers found her not guilty by reason of mental defect.

Note that this defense was so successful that it was used a year later by Vadim Mieseges of San Francisco for, you guessed it, murdering his landlady. Legislation to rename "The Matrix Defense" to the "Kill Your Landlady, Everyone's Doing It, Defense" is still pending.

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