Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Volunteer Position

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In April, the district attorney in Vilas County, Wis., announced that he was seeking volunteers for a forensic test to help his case against Douglas Plude, 42. Plude is scheduled to stand trial in the death of his wife. The volunteers, who must be female, about 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, will have to stick their heads into a toilet bowl. Plude is charged with drowning his wife in a commode, but he claims that his wife committed suicide by holding her head in the bowl (which the prosecutor will try to show is improbable).

 Least Competent Criminals

 Questionable Judgments: (1) In April in Arnold, Mo., police arrested a suspected shoplifter trying to leave Schnucks with unpaid-for merchandise. She aroused suspicion from security personnel only because she was attempting to exit through an automatic "enter" door and was slow to figure out the problem and loud in expressing her frustration. (2) Nathaniel Johnson, 19, was arrested in March in Tampa, Fla., on burglary charges when police produced solid evidence of his presence in a neighborhood that had reported several break-ins. Johnson was revealed to be at each crime scene because he was traced by the ankle monitor he was wearing from a previous court appearance.

Recurring Themes

 Public urination continues to be dangerous, as News of the Weird has reported periodically. In April, just before 5 a.m., a 23-year-old man tumbled off a bridge over the Minnesota River in Bloomington, Minn., while attempting to urinate. He fell 30 feet but survived. And in March, tugboat captain Kevin McGonigle fell off his boat into the Campbell River near Victoria, British Columbia, while attempting to urinate. He was rescued after 70 minutes, clad only in T-shirt and pajama bottoms, and could not have survived much longer in the frigid waters.

 Compelling Explanations

  • A month after her client was accused of attempted murder in March, attorney Frances Hartman spoke up for him to a reporter. "(My client) is an exemplary young man," said Hartman, describing fourth-year Camden, N.J., medical student Brett Picciotti, 26, who was charged with shoving his girlfriend off a second-story balcony. Picciotti denies that he pushed her. "This is an aberrational charge," Hartman said. "I think there's an explanation. I'm just not prepared to give it to you right now."
  • Rammed for a Good Reason: (1) Lorena Alvarez was charged with aggravated battery in April in Lake Worth, Fla., after allegedly crashing her car into her boyfriend's pickup truck and endangering her two kids, ages 7 and 1, who were with her. She explained to police that her boyfriend was about to drive off drunk and hitting him was the best way to prevent danger to other motorists. (2) John Angeline was charged with fatally running over gas station attendant Haeng Soon Yang in Mossyrock, Wash., in April after she tried to stop him from leaving without paying for $34 in fuel. Angeline, captured nearby, explained to police that he had run over the woman because she looked like she was about to "cast a spell" on him.

 A Tad Ungrateful

 In April, accounting clerk James Kauchis made a formal complaint to the personnel office of the county Department of Social Services (DSS) in Binghamton, N.Y., demanding that he be compensated for a recent interrupted lunch hour. Kauchis missed lunch when DSS offices were locked down as police secured the neighborhood surrounding the site of the April 3 massacre in which a gunman killed 13 people and then himself. Although DSS had pizza and beverages brought in during the siege, Kauchis felt that wasn't as good as a regular lunch hour. 

 Fetishes on Parade

 (1) Allan Mailloux, 45, was arrested for flashing motorists as he walked among rush-hour traffic in Madison, Wis., in January, on a day when the high temperature was minus-2 degrees Fahrenheit. (2) Police in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, investigated reports in February from several people that a man was driving alongside motorists on Highway 78 and, if the motorist was a lone female, would speed ahead, pull over to the shoulder, get out and flash the motorist as she drove by.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd

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