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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Pay Dirt

The New York Yankees' Derek Jeter achieved his milestone 3,000th major league hit in July, and Steiner Sports Marketing of New Rochelle, N.Y., was ready (in partnership with the Yankees and Major League Baseball). Dozens of items from the game were offered to collectors, including the bases ($7,500 each), 30 balls used during the game ($2,000 each, unsigned) and even Jeter's sweaty socks ($1,000). Steiner had also collected five gallons of dirt (under supervision, to assure authenticity), and uberfans can buy half-ounce containers of clay walked upon by Jeter during the game (from the shortstop area and the right-hand batter's box)—for a not-dirt-cheap $250 each.

Compelling Explanations

Unclear on the Concept: (1) The initial explanation by Melvin Jackson, 48, upon his arrest in June for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in Kansas City, Mo., was to deny that he would ever do such a thing. Rather, he said, "I thought the lady was dead." (2) The initial explanation by Thomas O'Neil, 47, upon his arrest in Wausau, Wis., in June for criminal damage to property (breaking into a neighbor's garage and defecating on the floor) was to claim that he thought he was in his own garage.

Ironies

  • Budget cuts forced the closure of two of the three firehouses in Chillicothe, Ohio (pop. 22,000), and the remaining station failed a state fire marshal's inspection in March. Because the station's own alarm system was broken, the chief was required, until the new system is installed, to assign one firefighter per shift to be on full-time patrol at the station, walking around the grounds constantly, upstairs, downstairs, looking for fires.       
  • Run That by Me Again: In New Orleans in July, Thomas Sanders, 53, pleaded guilty to murdering a 12-year-old girl. According to the neighboring state of Mississippi, Sanders has been dead for 17 years (having been ruled deceased in 1994 on petition of his parents, brother and ex-wife).

Should've Kept Their Mouths Shut

  • According to a bailiff, convicted car thief Thomas Done, 33, spent almost a half-hour at his June sentencing "shucking and jiving" Ogden, Utah, Judge Michael Lyon before finally finagling probation (instead of 15 years in prison)—by expressing parental love for his young daughter and blaming his recidivist criminality on his girlfriend's infidelity. However, literally seconds after Judge Lyon announced probation, Done, noticing his girlfriend in the courtroom, made a gun-triggering motion with his thumb and fingers and said, "Boom, bitch." A bailiff reported the gesture to the judge, who declared Done in violation of his brand-new probation and ordered him re-sentenced.
  • Initially, all Jay Rodgers wanted was for the fellow Atlanta gas station customer to say "thank you" when Rodgers held the door for him, but the man remained silent, and Rodgers pressed the issue, confronting him and even following the man out to his car—where the man pulled a gun and shot Rodgers in the abdomen, sending him to the hospital for nine days. (Interviewed on WSB-TV in May, Rodgers resumed nagging the man, urging him to "do the right thing" by turning himself in.)

A News of the Weird Classic

Bruce Damon, attempting to work a plea bargain in February 1992 to charges that he knocked off a bank in Whitman, Mass., argued to the judge that the 8- to 15-year term suggested by the prosecutor was way too long. Damon cited an article from the Brockton Enterprise newspaper showing that the bank had enjoyed record earnings in the months after the robbery and expected to continue doing well. Said Damon, "I didn't hurt this bank at all."  (When the judge asked Damon if he would rob banks again if he were free, Damon replied, "I'd like to plead the Fifth Amendment on that.")

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd

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