Wednesday, May 19, 2010

News of the Weird

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Bank Robbery 101

Albert Bailey, 27, and a 16-year-old buddy were charged in the robbery of a People's United Bank in Fairfield, Conn., in March, after they made it much too easy for police by calling the bank beforehand and demanding that money be set aside for them to pick up at a certain time. Police were waiting in the parking lot.

Inexplicable

  • Megan Barnes, 37, was arrested in March after being spotted driving erratically in Cudjoe Key, Fla., near Key West. After several implausible explanations, Barnes admitted that she had a razor and was giving herself a "bikini shave" as she drove. Several traffic charges were filed against her.

  • Baltimore County (Md.) Judge Darrell Russell Jr., presiding over a March domestic violence case in which a woman had changed her mind about testifying against her boyfriend, performed the couple's marriage ceremony in his chambers after temporarily halting the boyfriend's trial. Earlier, Judge Russell had informed the woman that she could not refuse to testify based on "marital privilege" because she and the boyfriend were not married. Consequently, as the trial started, she asked the judge to marry them. After the ceremony, she was then granted the "marital privilege," and the judge dismissed the charge for lack of evidence. (Russell has now been reassigned to less important cases.)

  • Justin Massler, 27, charged with criminal stalking of 28-year-old businesswoman/heiress Ivanka Trump, was released on bail in New York City in April. He explained to a New York Daily News reporter that he intended to alter his approach. Instead of imposing himself on Trump, he said he would "become like a big-time millionaire, real estate mogul, so that she's the one who contacts me."

Fuzzy Thinking

  • Carly Houston, 29, was arrested in Naperville, Ill., in March after a rowdy dispute with a taxi driver. When she was given her customary "one phone call" to ask a friend to post bond for her, she chose instead to call 911 and report that she was "trapped inside [a] detention facility" (thus causing police to add "a false 911 report" to the charges).

  • Schools’ "zero tolerance" policies prohibiting guns or weapons on campus not only apply (as they have recently) to drawings of guns and to a 2-inch-long toy in the shape of a gun, but, at a school in Ionia, Mich., to making the familiar, thumb-up hand representation of a gun, for which Mason Jammer, 6, was suspended in March.

Can't Possibly Be True

Michelle Taylor, 34, was sentenced in Elko, Nev., in April to life in prison for the crime of forcing a 13-year-old boy to touch her breasts. The sentence was mandatory under a Nevada state law, but, noted her lawyer, "She is getting a greater penalty…than if she killed (the boy)." (She will be eligible for parole after 10 years.)

Latest Protests

  •  In April, outdoing the recent partisan spats in the U.S. Congress, several dozen members of the Ukrainian parliament squared off over a bill that would extend the lease on a Russian naval base in the Ukraine. Eventually the skirmish involved headlocks, punches, a smoke bomb, glue in the voting machines and cartons of eggs tossed at the speaker's podium. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called it the chamber's "traditional elegance."

  • Sweden's Metro newspaper reported in March that a 21-year-old inmate at Kirseberg prison in Malm faces discipline for continuing his protests against jail conditions by passing gas directly at guards.

Recurring Themes

Federal agents in April uncovered an elaborate bestiality ring (allegedly involving horses, dogs and mice) in Washington state. Facility operator Douglas Spink is suspected of using the site to make pornographic videos, and a visitor from England was arrested as a suspected paying customer. This farm is near Bellingham, Wash., and the operation is completely separate from the 2005 raid on a similar facility near Enumclaw, Wash. (about 110 miles away), in which one man died of a perforated colon following penetrative sex by a horse. The state had no specific anti-bestiality law in 2005, but one was enacted after the Enumclaw episode.

2010 Chuck Shepherd