The town of Greensburg, Pennsylvania (population 16,000), was the site of two high-profile arrests recently. In July, James Kilpatrick, 21, was charged in several foot-kissing incidents, including one in which he allegedly knelt under a table at a public library and repeatedly kissed the foot of a 12-year-old girl (later asking if he could kiss her liver). And in September, Robert Domasky, 48, fled after being seen hanging around outside the girls' locker room at Greensburg Salem High School dressed as a woman. Police tracked him to his apartment, which they said contained cheerleading uniforms, trophies, and magazines as well as various forms of ID in different women's names with pictures of the 200-pound Domasky in drag. He identified himself as Kelly Dawn Hullenbaugh and explained that he'd been at the school looking for the cheerleading coach, hoping she'd teach him some cheers. He was charged with felony trespassing and identity theft.
Throwing the Book at 'Em
In July the Manitoba Court of Appeal upheld a sentence issued last year by Winnipeg judge Ronald Meyers. The high court ruled that under the Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2002, deterrence should not be a factor in the sentencing of underage offenders, and so Meyers was correct in awarding a jail term of one day (plus supervision) to a 15-year-old boy who beat a man to death with a billiard ball in a sock. The following month Meyers, who according to a Canadian Press article has complained that the justice act ties judges' hands, sentenced two teenage boys with 22 prior violent-crime convictions between them to terms of six and eight months respectively for three counts of armed robbery.
Life Imitates Saturday-Morning Cartoons
A judge dismissed drug-possession charges against a Waterloo, Iowa, man in June, ruling that police should have gotten a warrant before impounding his car last year. An informant had said there was cocaine in the car, and officers found it after going over the vehicle back at the station. But the court ruled that the initial curbside search had been insufficient to justify taking the car into custody, as the police dog sniffing for drugs had become too distracted by nearby cats to complete the job.
The Litigious Society
In 2002 LaTonya Finney and her boyfriend, Adrian Howard, managed to get together while they were jailed, separately, on robbery charges in Crawford County, Georgia (they say it was a sanctioned conjugal visit, the sheriff says Howard picked several locks), resulting in Finney's giving birth to a daughter, Adrianna. This July the child's maternal grandparents, Ronnie and Patricia Finney, petitioned the county for money to help support Adrianna until her mother gets out of prison in 2012, arguing that the sheriff bears some responsibility for her conception.
Recurring Themes: In New York City in July, 17-year-old Albert Salcedo became the latest plaintiff to file a lawsuit after shaking a stubborn vending machine and having it fall on top of him. In this case the $5 million claim names the city as responsible, since the machine was in a high school lunchroom. Salcedo received a $30,000 settlement five years ago after he cut himself falling through a broken school fence.
People With Issues
Neil Middlehurst, a 49-year-old blind resident of Wallington, England, pleaded guilty in June to three counts of indecent assault. Middlehurst's MO is to get a woman to help him cross the street, then attempt to touch her breasts while he talks to her about "sore throats" and "phlegm." He's served jail time for similar assaults in the past; in this case the sentencing judge issued an order prohibiting him from touching Samaritans anywhere but the shoulder and from saying the word phlegm.
Least Competent Criminals
During the trial held this summer in Brooklyn in which Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino was convicted on numerous counts of murder, arson, and other felonies, testimony often portrayed a less than smooth-running crime organization. Salvatore "Good-Looking Sal" Vitale, an underboss turned state's evidence, admitted that while waiting to carry out a 1981 hit he accidentally pulled the trigger of his gun, firing several rounds inside the closet where he was hiding with three other shooters. According to Vitale, a furious Massino told him he would no longer be one of the assassins and that his new job was simply "guarding the door."
Emergency medical technicians summoned in August to the home of a grossly overweight woman in Stuart, Florida, found that in addition to the classic problem in such cases--doorways too narrow--there was an even more serious concern: the 4-foot-10, 480-pound woman had not budged from her couch in several years, and the fabric had adhered to her skin. She and the couch were transported via trailer to the hospital, where she died during the attempt to free her.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.