NewsQuirks 668

Curses, Foiled Again and Again

Police in Richmond, Va., reported that a man robbed a bank but dropped the money while fleeing. He then knocked down a woman who was trying to get into her car in the parking lot and stole the car. About 15 minutes later, police said the same man walked into another bank and presented a note demanding money. As he was leaving, he knocked over a man entering the bank. The man gave chase, joined by two other men, who caught the robber. Police arr ested Robert Mustafa Farook Muhammad, 43.

Slightest Provocations

Brian Heath Harrison, 23, of Excel, Ala., was convicted of shooting into his girlfriend's car because she didn't fix him toast for breakfast. Gena Mixon, 19, testified that Harrison dragged her by her hair, choked her, held a rifle to her head and put the barrel in her mouth. She said she packed her bags and tried to leave, and that's when he shot her car.

Police in Allegany County, Md., charged William Loar with shooting Brian Bolt in the face on St. Patrick's Day after the two men argued about which of them had Irish blood. Both men had been drinking.

Prosecutors in Cook County, Ill., accused David Norington, 38, of attacking his roommate, Ollie Hale, 51, with an ashtray, pliers, a hammer, a fire extinguisher and a dumbbell before finally stabbing him to death with a knife. The assault arose during an argument that began during dinner when Norington accused Hale of taking more than his share of chicken.

Less Is More

Prime Image recently introduced its Time Machine, which lets television stations trim time off shows and commercials to make room for more commercials. Some 120 local TV stations have bought the $93,000 device, which uses a process called microediting to eliminate duplicate frames of video. Since there are 30 frames in every second of video, cutting a frame here and there goes unnoticed but adds up. "The little pieces we take out are so small, but we take out so many of them that you can accumulate 30 seconds over 30 minutes," said Bill Hendershot, founder of the San Jose, Calif., company, explaining that those 30 seconds translate into another commercial.

Let's Make a Deal

After a man shot Matthew Forster, 23, in the leg, police in Bend, Ore., said Forster told them he used an artist's knife to remove the bullet, then sold it for $200 to the accused gunman's brother so it couldn't be used as evidence. Even though the bullet hasn't been recovered, police Lt. Jerry Stone noted the authorities already have X-rays of Forster's leg containing the bullet, adding, "This should have very little effect on the case."

After William Paige, 32, traded a chain saw to his brother Randall "Randy" J. Paige, 38, for a small motorcycle, the two men from Martville, N.Y., got into an argument because neither item worked. The dispute ended after the brothers squared off with shotguns and William Paige was taken to the hospital with wounds to his face and arm.

Litigation Nation

Harvey Taylor, 48, a convicted sex offender wanted in Florida who spent three days in the Maine woods this winter after fleeing from a Penobscot County Sheriff's detective, threatened to sue the detective for not arresting him promptly. Taylor said he got lost and spent three nights in knee-deep snow, and as a result had to have "two or three" toes amputated on his left foot due to frostbite. "If the detective had done his job," Taylor said from his hospital room, "I wouldn't be in here now."

Laren Sims, 36, a murder suspect who hanged herself while being held in a Hernando County, Fla., jail, left a suicide note asking her lawyer to sue the jail because it failed to prevent her from killing herself. The note insisted that she was not checked regularly in her cell. Steven Owen, spokesperson for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the jail, said that Sims was properly supervised, adding, "If somebody is so determined to commit suicide, then it's hard to stop them."

High Flying

During the 2002 Olympic Games, a reference guide published by the Salt Lake City Tribune included a schedule for the "90km" and "120km" ski jumping events. According to those measurements, skiers would have to jump 55.8 miles and 74.4 miles.

When Ermes Zamperla, 36, who performed with Zamperla Thrill Circus as the "human cannonball," was launched from a spring-loaded cannon at the Florida State Fair, he soared 100 feet through the air. Unfortunately, that was 25 feet too many. He overshot his target, an inflatable cushion, landing instead on his feet. Carried by momentum, he skidded 10 feet and crashed headfirst into a fiberglass fence. He was taken to the hospital with a crushed vertebra, several broken bones and a head injury.

Two weeks later, Zamperla's girlfriend Brenda Pope told sheriff's deputies that Zamperla, who was still unable to walk, crawled over a couch and punched her in the face three times. "I think it's the medication I am on," Zamperla said after being released from jail on $500 bail, "because I am blacking out and acting weird."

Why They Call It Dope

Brian Tippy, 22, a senior at Yale University, walked into a Yale Police substation and announced that he wanted to test the authenticity of some heroin he had just bought. The substance tested positive, and police immediately arrested Tippy.

The Fare from Hell

When Patricia Agness decided to travel from Jacksonville, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska, she called a cab. She negotiated a rate of $1 a mile—less than the usual $1.65 a mile—for the 10,000-mile journey, explaining, "I needed to get away, and this is the best way to see the open road." Gator City Taxi drivers Joe Gattuso and Safdar Hussein took eight-hour shifts, driving non-stop until they reached Buellton, Calif., where they decided they had had enough and returned home. "We hardly got any sleep," Gattuso said.

Naked Behavior

Judge Jesse Gunther of the 3rd District Court in Bangor, Maine, ruled that two women students at the University of Maine did not violate the state's indecent-conduct law by jogging naked. The law states that people are guilty of indecent conduct only when they "knowingly expose their genitals in public," Gunther said, explaining that a woman naked in the street isn't breaking the law because a woman's genitals are primarily internal.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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