Horrifyingly, the court found they got the idea from the 2016 Oscar-winning film, Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, which they had watched earlier in the evening.
In the movie, Affleck's character is tormented by the accidental deaths of his two children, following lighting a fire in his house and leaving the property for half an hour while they slept.
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said an autopsy revealed Ernest and Heather Franklin's disabled adopted son actually died before the fire, and that the couple had set their house alight to hid the murder.
"The victim was badly burned," the police officer said during the hearing. "Because of the damage to the body by the fire, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death."
ABC News reported, McBride also referenced a specific part of Manchester by the Sea, saying, “the Affleck character in the movie is told that you can’t be prosecuted for accidentally killing your children.”
This article first appeared on Marie Claire.