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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Pennsylvania district judge Charles O. Guyer was charged in August with improperly favoring a defendant in his courtroom. Police said Guyer privately offered a lenient sentence to a 21-year-old man on the condition that the man allow Guyer to wash his hair. The defendant reported the offer to authorities, and two undercover police officers, claiming to be friends of the defendant, allowed Guyer to wash their hair to gather evidence.

Compelling Explanations

Herbert Daughtry, 24, and two other men were indicted for attempted murder in New York City in July. Daughtry had allegedly hired a hit man to kill prosecutor Daniel Bibb for $25,000 because Bibb "showed [Daughtry] disrespect" by raising his eyebrows twice during a court appearance.

A 55-year-old man in Calgary, Alberta, explained in December that he had sexually molested his wife's children over a seven-year period because he was "mad at [his wife] for becoming a Jehovah's Witness. I kept [the kids] from going to [the group's meetings] so they wouldn't be brainwashed like my wife."

In a recent medical paper called "Castration as a Deterrent to Violent Crime," prominent Houston surgeon Louis Girard put a new spin on an old idea: "For lesser crimes . . . removal of one testicle or one ovary" would be better than removal of fingers or toes because partial castration would make the criminal more docile and would not affect his or her ability to work, allowing him or her to be returned to society.

A jury in Tavares, Florida, convicted Leal Fleming, 45, of drunk driving in November despite his insistence that the reason he slurred his words to a police officer and wouldn't take a breathing test was that he had just been bitten on the tongue by a rat snake and was on his way to a hospital to get treatment for the swelling. Said Fleming after the trial, "After the verdict came in, I had some second thoughts [about not taking an offered plea bargain], but I still think there was a point to our defense."

From the December 19 "Police Reports" column of the Glen Ellyn Press: Eric Hoyt, 21, and Peter A. Thordason, 25, were charged with stealing Christmas trees from a food-store lot. The two denied they had any intention of stealing the trees, according to the story: "Thordason allegedly told police he wanted to see how long it would take him to run around the building carrying the tree while Hoyt timed him."

Baptist minister Ed Lopes, who leads a congregation in West Richland, Washington, was recently under pressure to resign following public revelations that he had served time in prison for murdering his second wife and leaving a girlfriend for dead. Lopes had told parishioners that he'd done time, but he'd said it was because he was a former Mafia hit man with 28 notches in his belt. The congregation had seemed to accept that, Lopes said. "It's a lot more macho to say you worked for the Mafia than [that] you murdered your wife."

Douglas Fairbanks Hall, 43, pleaded guilty in Philadelphia last May to selling cocaine to an undercover detective, but claimed in court that the reason he had resorted to a life of crime was that he desperately needed the money to buy prescription drugs to rid his body of the 50 species of mites that had plagued him for years.

Last July Sheldon Leffler, a New York City councilman from Queens, proposed an exception to the new city ban on assault weapons. Some weapons should be exempt, he said, because "perhaps [the owner has] a special attachment to the weapon. Perhaps it comes from the old country."

Claude Jones, 32, confessed last summer to at least two dozen bank robberies around Sacramento, California, that netted him about $25,000. He said he'd robbed to finance his "addiction" to attending Los Angeles Raiders football games during the 1990-'91 season. In a letter to the judge, Jones wrote, "The only time I could relax . . . was when I went to the games. The Raiders were winning, and I began to believe that I was helping them by attending the games."

Least Competent Person

Michael Stohr, 26, was arrested for counterfeiting in September in Madison, Wisconsin, after clerks at a printing supply store tipped federal investigators off about a man who had been browsing there. They said he had hung around the store holding dollar bills up to a color chart and finally placed an order for a particular shade of green ink.

Creme de la Weird

In December officials in Garden Grove, California, concerned about health- and fire-code violations that Shirley Anne Hall had failed to remedy within the specified 60 days, hired a commercial cleaning firm to tidy up her three-bedroom house. The crew filled three trash bins with musty newspapers, rotting food, and a year's worth of dirty dishes. Hall complained as workers carted off her "belongings," asking, "How would you feel if you were me? Violated? Raped?"

The Diminishing Value of Life

Jerry Cartee, 38, was shot to death in Jimmy's Lounge in Montgomery, Alabama, in January. Police charged Robert Smitherman with the crime. The shooting was instigated when Cartee argued with Smitherman's brother over a billiards bet.

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