Lawyer confidentiality rules kept one man improperly on death row for 10 years and a probably innocent man in prison for 26, according to news that surfaced in January (in Virginia) and March (in Illinois). Daryl Atkins (sentenced to death in 1997) was the victim of probable prosecutorial misconduct, according to his co-defendant's lawyer, Leslie Smith, who said he witnessed the misconduct but could not report it because a lesser sentence for Atkins would have exposed his own client to greater punishment. In Illinois, Alton Logan was convicted of a murder during a 1982 robbery. However, shortly afterward, Andrew Wilson admitted to his lawyers that he was the murderer, but bar association rules prohibited them from revealing that. When Wilson died in 2007, the lawyers went public, and Logan's case has been re-opened.
(1) Mayor Art Madrid of La Mesa, Calif., apologized in February for an incident the week before when police found him, along with a female city employee, passed out about 10:30 p.m. Madrid was lying on the sidewalk near an SUV; the woman was in the driver's seat with her legs sticking out the open door; and vomit littered the area. (2) A patient reporting for an appointment with dentist Norman Rubin in Smithtown, N.Y., in March told the New York Post that Rubin was in the otherwise-empty office, passed out, drooling, with a gas mask on his face. (Rubin later told the Post, in defense, that it was, after all, his lunch hour.)
The Continuing Crisis
-- Dirk Opalka (whose fox scored 96 of 100 possible points) won best in show at the World Taxidermy Championships in February in Salzburg, Austria, beating over 100 competitors in the art of stretching animal skin over fake bodies so the critters look better than they ever looked alive. The attention to detail was astonishing, according to a dispatch in Der Spiegel, on such features as a stag's nostrils, a hyena's lips, a hamster's whiskers, the neck length of a female peregrine falcon (precisely 5.5 cm), and the proper rosiness of a bat's anus.
-- In March, the Tokyo High Court reversed the conviction of pinup model Serena Kozakura, who had been found guilty of kicking a hole in the door of her former boyfriend's apartment so she could break in and scream at him. Kozakura had appealed, claiming that the man had made the hole himself, and as evidence, explained that she could never have squeezed through it, anyway, because her breasts are too big. That argument apparently won the day, creating enough "reasonable doubt" to overturn the verdict.
-- Two German air force sergeants were suspended in December after being caught in a side venture selling sausages based on an old family recipe requiring human blood. Their first batches were made with their own, but as they began mass-producing, they had allegedly asked their colleagues because, according to instructions from one of the men's grandmothers, all blood must be "fresh." "Do not use too many breadcrumbs," she had written, "but if the blood starts to curdle, stir in a teaspoon of wine vinegar."
-- Court documents revealed in March that federal judge Eduardo Robreno had fined New York mortgage banker Aaron Wider and his lawyer $29,000 for using variations of the "F word" 73 times (thus, about $367 per usage) during a contentious deposition he gave in a lawsuit brought by GMAC Bank.
-- Several psychotherapists told The New York Times in February that treatments are being developed for people who are excessively worried about their own carbon emissions being responsible for "global warming." More than 120 therapists are now listed as specialists in the field on Ecopsychology.org, and schools such as Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., have created courses on counseling such patients.
-- Sheila and Paul Garcia of Northfleet, England, acknowledged to London's Daily Mail in February that they invited their 16-year-old daughter's boyfriend to come live with her in her bedroom, despite the fact that he is 36 and divorced, with one child. The parents said they weren't thrilled with the situation, but that it was preferable to the daughter's running away with the man.
-- Cutting-Edge Parenting: (1) Sheriff's deputies in the Orlando area were on the lookout in March for two women who, according to surveillance video from the Magical Car Wash, had pulled into a stall and deposited coins but then proceeded only to scold and then pressure-wash a small child. (2) Aron Pritchard, 27, was convicted of child endangerment in March in Hutchinson, Kan., after a jury declined to accept his explanation for his girlfriend's kids, age 2 and 3, being burned in a hot clothes dryer. Pritchard said he was just trying to show them they could have fun without necessarily spending money.
Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Two boys, 12 and 14, were quickly arrested in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in March when they tried to rob a woman who was working at a counter behind protective glass in an office, by picking up the convenience phone and threatening her, implying that they had a gun. The woman was in no danger because of the protective glass, but besides that, the place they had chosen for the hit was a regional office of the Port St. Lucie police department. (2) Donald Baker, 51, was re-arrested in March in Peterborough, Ontario, when he called the police department to request a wake-up call for his court appearance the next morning; amazed at his audacity, police ran a records check and found an additional arrest warrant on him.
-- News of the Weird cited a police report last May that an unidentified man in Guelph, Ontario, had committed at least three incidents of approaching women and asking to be kicked in the groin. After seven such incidents, Jarrett Loft, 28, pleaded guilty in March 2008 to one count and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Loft offered no explanation for his behavior, other than that he was "curious." One victim, saying that she feared what Loft might do if she refused, repeatedly kicked him between the legs, after which he thanked her and rode off on his bicycle.
-- Good Friday in the Philippines town of San Pedro Cutud has meant, for over 20 years, that two dozen men will line up to be nailed to a wooden cross for a few minutes each to mark their penitence for sins of the previous year (although this year, the government issued an advisory recommending getting tetanus shots and using only sterile nails). Ruben Enaje, 47, was first in line once again (the 22nd time in 23 years that he has been crucified) and, once again, screamed in agony for five minutes at the 6-inch nails driven into both palms and both feet while he lay on the cross. Before the crucifixions, dozens of other men punished themselves by whipping their backs bloody, using bamboo rods.
(1) A 76-year-old Baptist minister was found dead in Clarksville, Tenn., in March after he had tried to pull a goat back into a fenced-in area of his property; apparently, the goat had resisted the slip knot, and somehow the animal's jumping had wound the rope around the minister's feet and neck, and he had begun to turn blue by the time his wife found him. (2) The day before that, an 82-year-old man in Lake Hallie, Wis., was killed when he apparently slipped while using a plumber's auger on his septic tank and fell in, head first, eventually drowning.
(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)
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