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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Actor Charles Peyton, who appears in X-rated films under the name Jeff Stryker, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles this summer charging infringement of the "intellectual property" rights he owns on his name and his body. The lawsuit is against two companies that manufacture Doc Johnson marital aids; Peyton accused them of selling rubber replicas of his penis without permission.

Questionable Judgments

Last October in Maidenhead, England, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals brought charges of pet abandonment against David Sharod, who'd left his two fish--a South American sucking loach and a sucking plec--alone in their tank for three days while he was away. It cost the government the equivalent of $12,000 to conduct a trial, and Sharod $3,000 to defend himself. He was acquitted in June after he cited the society's own literature to show the fish could live comfortably on algae in the tank for up to two weeks.

A 17-year-old boy was hospitalized in Southington, Ohio, in March after he placed a .22-caliber bullet in a vise at his home and tightened it to see what would happen. The bullet exploded, embedding metal fragments in his fingers.

Last August in Gastonia, North Carolina, defendant Donald Eugene Murray, 52, fearful of being found guilty of sexual assault, fled the courtroom just as jury deliberations began. The jurors, unaware of the escape, found him not guilty. An arrest warrant for the escape was issued.

A 48-year-old convicted sex offender in Mesa, Arizona, invited his probation officer to join him at a sex offenders' support-group meeting in June so he could demonstrate how much progress toward rehabilitation he'd made. During the meeting the man admitted to the group that he'd recently broken into the homes of three women and stolen underwear from them. The break-ins were news to the probation officer and to local police. The man's probation was revoked, and he was returned to prison.

A February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a 23-year-old Israeli man required surgery to repair his small intestine after it ruptured following a competition with his brother in which he ate 25 chilies in 12 minutes. Capsaicin, the burning agent in chili peppers, had eaten through his intestine wall.

Well Put

Francis Perlmutter, who inadvertently confessed to murder in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in June when he left a message on an answering machine, told reporters who were questioning him just after his arrest: "I don't know what's going to happen now. This is my first murder."

Janet Kolbasook testified in Conway, South Carolina, in April on behalf of her brother, who was ultimately convicted of criminal negligence in the drowning death of a woman; he was severely intoxicated at the time. Kolbasook told the court her brother was dear to her. "We're a tight family," she said. "We're all alcoholics."

In April Edward R. Blagden, 64, was brought before taxicab regulators in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a customer's complaint that Blagden had locked him in the trunk of the taxi when he didn't pay the fare. Blagden ultimately lost his license, but not before he pleaded with the hearing board: "I promise you, I won't put anybody in the trunk."

Adel Arnold, 49--the oldest of five women arrested in July 1992 for a shirtless protest against Ontario nudity laws that allow men to be top-free but not women--won her case in February with the argument that women's breasts are not necessarily objects of sexual desire. "They're hanging down to my waist. What's sexy about that?"

In June U.S. district judge Sam Sparks of Austin, Texas, ruled against Dick Thornburgh (former Pennsylvania governor, former U.S. attorney general) and his 1991 U.S. Senate campaign organization in a case involving campaign finances. Sparks wrote that he didn't find Thornburgh's testimony "particularly credible," but he added in a footnote that he "regrets this finding as [he] has the utmost respect" for Thornburgh.

Convicted serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, imprisoned in Hunstville, Texas, told an Associated Press reporter in July that he made up tales about his involvement in the nearly 600 murders he confessed to. Lucas, who's now serving life sentences for ten murders, said that once he got started making up confessions, he couldn't stop. "I just didn't have any willpower."

Creme de la Weird

A judge in Los Angeles sentenced Yu-te Chen, 27, of Taiwan, to 30 days in jail in September after federal agents found 52 snakes illegally in his possession as he attempted to board a flight home at Los Angeles International Airport. Most were found in a carry-on bag, but 18 were strapped to his biceps and ankles.

Least Competent Person

Christopher Howard, 25, was arrested in Haines City, Florida, in August after police responded to his call reporting that a burglar was trying to break into his house. When the officers arrived, Howard led them around the house looking for the alleged burglar, but apparently forgot that he'd left a ceramic plate containing cocaine on the dining-room table. The officers soon discovered it.

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

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