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News of the Weird

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The product catalog of the Menstrual Health Foundation of Santa Rosa, California, offers washable cotton sanitary napkins for $5 each and lauds its dedication to helping women everywhere "who are saying 'yes' to menstrual empowerment and . . . reclaiming the menstrual mysteries--for our daughters, ourselves, our old wise women and the Earth." The foundation concludes, "When you bleed, think of MHF!"

Compelling Explanations

Earlier this year in Phoenix, Arizona, Alfred Lavers, 48, argued unsuccessfully that he should not receive the death penalty for slowly and torturously stabbing his wife and stepdaughter to death. Lavers argued that the law discriminates against poor people who cannot afford expensive guns and therefore must rely on crude weapons that kill slowly to commit murder.

Latest multiple-personalities excuses: Larry Sanders, dismissed from graduate school at the University of Illinois for plagiarism, filed suit recently for reinstatement, claiming that it was one of his secondary personalities who did it. In an Oklahoma trial, Floyd Allen Medlock, who had confessed to murder, denied that he had had his Miranda rights read to him beforehand, stating that the Miranda warning had been mistakenly administered to one of his secondary personalities.

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, high school biology teacher James L. Harrison, charged last December with having had sex with a 16-year-old student, explained the presence of semen at the back of his classroom by saying that he was preparing specimen slides for his students.

Paul Domenech, 34, beat drunk-driving charges before a jury in Tampa, Florida, in May. Though police say his car was weaving from lane to lane, he proved that the alcohol officers smelled on his breath was the mixture of rubbing alcohol and gasoline he had just used in a performance in his occupation as a professional fire breather.

Police seized 55 animals from the Burbank, California, home of Pedro and Graciela Cuervo in March because they suspected the couple of planning Santeria cult sacrifices--especially since they found a bowl of blood at the time, along with two decapitated quail and ten people dressed in ceremonial robes. The Cuervos maintained that they were merely preparing a barbecue and that the blood was really marinade.

David Tse was acquitted by a New York City jury in July of the murder of a reputed gang member. The jury found that Tse acted in "self-defense" by firing 18 shots (requiring him to reload his .38-caliber revolver twice) at his victim.

Luther Meadows, mayor of Nixa, Missouri, was charged in December with assault on a police officer after being stopped on suspicion of drunken driving. After some arguing, Meadows allegedly leaned into a patrol car and punched the officer in the chest. Meadows claimed he was only touching the deputy's shirt to see whether or not it was foreign-made.

In Pittsburg, California, in July, after he pitched a game-winning home run to a girl, Little League player Mike Ippolito told his coach that the reason he threw her such a good pitch was that just before he did it she winked at him, causing him to become flustered.

Sherman Hill, ticketed last year for driving alone in a two-person-minimum carpool lane near San Francisco, told the judge that he was not violating the law because his seeing-eye dog was in the front seat with him. He is blind in his left eye and partially blind in the right and says he needs the dog to bark when there is a car in front of him. He also claimed he wasn't trying to outrun a pursuing patrolman but rather speeding up to cool off the dog. He lost.

Eehhh-uuuuu, Gross!

The office directly below the coroner's evidence room at the Cooper Green Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, was closed briefly in March. The evidence room is used to dry out evidence from autopsies of people who die mysteriously, and because of an improperly sealed drainpipe in that room, maggots were leaking through to the room below.

A man picked up by an ambulance in Perth, Australia, in July forced the evacuation of both the ambulance and two hospital emergency rooms. He was uncontrollably emitting poisonous fumes from various body parts due to industrial-strength pesticides he had swallowed.

Louise Hicks, whose husband died of a heart attack last year, sued both the employees of the funeral home where he was taken and the Santa Barbara, California, sheriff's department, who transported him there from his home, for negligence in handling the body. She said she had told the sheriff's department to be extremely careful handling the body but that it later turned up with a severe head wound. Hicks suspects that her husband might have "sat up" abruptly while in storage, either hitting his head or so startling an employee that the employee might have punched him.

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

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