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Murder, Mafia-Style

A "Sopranos"-style murder shocks the world.

Life imitates art in a bizarre murder involving two brothers in Riverside, California. Jason Bautista, 20, and his 15-year-old half brother (name undisclosed because of age (CK)) confessed to strangling their mother, Jane Bautista, then chopping off her hands and head. The brothers mimicked an episode of "The Sopranos," hoping to elude authorities. The two were arrested on January 24. Many are now asking why this murder happened, and if "The Sopranos" should be blamed for the crime.

"['The Sopranos'] might have acted like a road map, but it is not the cause," says Harvey Schlossberg, Ph.D., a forensic psychologist based in New York. "To avoid guilt, they [may] say that the TV talked them into it." Schlossberg is certain that even if the brothers did not watch "the Sopranos"; they would have still killed their mother.

The focus on TV violence should not be confused with the violence of the act itself. In the case of the Bautista brothers, a preliminary autopsy found that Jane Bautista was strangled. "Strangling indicates intense anger," says Schlossberg. "It's a very direct personal act. You put your hands on and you have to watch the person die." Money may have also been a motive. "My guess is it has to do with money in some way," says Schlossberg. "That they acted in concert says there was a plot with money involved."