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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Blocks Murderer’s |Wiccan Name Change

(CN) - A murderer is not entitled to change his name to reflect his "Wiccan religious tenets," the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled.

Charles Jaynes is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for the 1997 kidnapping and murder of a 10-year-old boy.

Jaynes killed the child with a gasoline-soaked rag. He and an accomplice placed the body in a cement-filled container and dumped it into a river.

Jaynes filed a petition to change his name to Manasseh-Invictus Auric Thutmose V. Nine people objected, including the victim's father.

He argued that Jaynes had used aliases in the past and had dozens of outstanding warrants when he was arrested for the boy's murder.

Jaynes explained that "my old heathen name is religiously offensive. It is also spiritually debilitating due to the fact that God and Jesus Christ had given me a new name."

Based on these words, the judge ruled that a name change was not essential to Jaynes' Wiccan faith.

Jaynes appealed, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the ruling on Dec. 16 in an opinion written by Justice Amy Lyn Blake.

"When a prisoner's right to a name change is at issue, the public interests at stake are heightened, particularly if the prisoner may be paroled in the future," she wrote.

Blake also agreed with the trial judge that the name change was not essential to Jaynes' Wiccan beliefs.

"At the hearing, Jaynes provided a first-person narrative describing the origins of his chosen new name, how several Biblical characters changed their names during the course of their relationship with God, and how he, similarly, would like to use the new name God had provided him," she wrote.

Blake noted that Jaynes did not explain how he practices the Wiccan religion, nor did he challenge the trial judge's finding that name changes "are not essential under his Wiccan religion."

Blake added that Jaynes' rights were not violated relating to the equal protection clause of the constitution and Massachusetts' Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

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