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News of the Weird



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The film Child, This Is Just a Test by God opened in the Philippines, starring the popular Robin "Bad Boy" Padilla. The movie was shot on location in prison because Padilla, an inmate, couldn't get work-release from his 21-year sentence on weapons charges; producers got cooperation by handing out on-screen roles to prison administrators and guards. And in Sacramento rap singer X Raided, who's been in jail for four years awaiting trial for murder, recorded a new album, Xorcist, over a pay phone while listening to music tracks on an adjacent pay phone.

Latest Surges of Testosterone

Francis J. Pezzuto, 29, was arrested in February in Sayville, New York, on sexual abuse charges. According to police, Pezzuto showed nude pictures of himself to several adolescent boys and paid some of them between $20 and $30 to write their initials on his buttocks with a felt marker and to take Polaroid snapshots of their work.

Police in Urbandale, Iowa, arrested one of their own in January. James R. Trimble, a 43-year-old cop, part-time antidrug crusader, and part-time girls' basketball coach, was charged with trafficking in marijuana and methamphetamine. According to the Des Moines Register, Trimble was also driving around with "scores" of sex videotapes in his car and had a "sexual device inserted into his body"--a device that "was connected to a battery pack." (No other details were revealed.)

A 59-year-old female motorist in Bloomington, Minnesota, told police in January that a driver had pulled alongside her on the highway and pressed a nude photograph of himself against his window. The suspect was arrested.

In February in Redondo Beach, California, hairdresser Joseph R. "Jay" Middleton, 56, was sentenced to 60 days' community service on a charge that he'd masturbated while doing a female customer's hair. Middleton had removed his pants and worked on her hair with his free hand; he was able to complete the haircut because the customer was too frightened to object. Middleton apparently talked to himself during the episode, saying, "This is so bad; I can't believe I'm doing this" and "Bad Jay, bad Jay," while slapping himself on the wrist.

In Burbank, California, in February, a 55-year-old man who'd placed an ad in a local bondage-and-discipline magazine arranged a "date" in his home with another man. When he answered his door, the date forced him to crawl through his house to his bondage room and tied him nude to a proctologic table. According to police, the date and his accomplice, who was waiting outside, then robbed the house, stealing a sofa, leather chair, and TV set among other items.

Pharmacist Robert Trocki, 59, was arrested in October in Southbury, Connecticut, and charged with illegally selling prescription drugs. Police said in two instances he'd given women birth control pills and pain relievers in exchange for the opportunity to kiss their feet and sneakers.

Courtroom Antics

James Mascetta, 40, was charged with dispensing a narcotic in December in Nashua, New Hampshire. Bailiffs caught Mascetta handing a packet of heroin to a woman sitting at the defendants' table in a courtroom while she was awaiting arraignment on a drug charge.

Kevin C. Maben, 28, filed a $2 million lawsuit in February against Billy Wayne Williams, a county judge in Ripley, Tennessee, who is a retired highway patrolman without legal training. Williams was elected to the bench in 1990. Maben said the judge jailed him for missing car payments, despite a Tennessee law that clearly gives Maben the right to a jury trial. Said the judge, "No, I do not pull [out] the [statute] book on every case that comes up. I'd be sitting over there [in the law library] 24 hours a day."

In Stanton, Michigan, in January Judge Joel Gehrke found Stewart Marshall guilty of throwing his wife to the floor during a domestic quarrel. As punishment Marshall was ordered to hold out his arm while Gehrke slapped him on the wrist, saying, "Don't do that." (Gehrke thought the punishment was appropriate because the fight was in response to his wife's affair with his brother, with whom she'd had a son.)

Valdamair Morelos, 35, confessed to murder in 1994 in San Jose, California, and told the judge he wanted the death penalty. He was forced to go to trial anyway, because California law requires one in capital cases. At the trial in January Morelos occasionally tried to help the prosecution. For instance, after the prosecutor described the killing to the judge, Morelos added, "I blindfolded him too."

The U. S. Supreme Court in January rejected the appeal of a convicted drug possessor in Arizona who claimed he didn't receive a fair trial because no fat people served on the jury.

In March the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York upheld an order for a new trial for Dale Tippins, who was convicted on drug charges in 1986 and sentenced to 18 years in prison, but who has been complaining since then that his lawyer had napped during the trial. (One juror said he heard the lawyer, Louis Tirelli, snoring several times, and another said Tirelli slept through "65 percent" of the testimony of a key prosecution witness.) The court granted the new trial but was also somewhat skeptical: "There are states of drowsiness that come over everyone from time to time during [a trial]."

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, county judge Joann Birge dismissed DUI charges against Joseph Chiado in February even though his test results more than doubled the permissible alcohol level. Two officers had been in on the arrest when guidelines call for only one on misdemeanors.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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