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News of the Weird 11/23/12

by Chuck Shepherd

Did I Say That Out Loud? No Do-Overs: By 2009, James Washington believed he had gotten away with a 1995 murder, but then he had a heart attack, and on his deathbed, in a fit of remorse, he confessed to a confidant. (“I have to get something off my conscience,” he told a guard in the jailhouse where he was serving time for a lesser, unrelated offense.) However, Washington miraculously recovered from the heart attack and tried to take back his confession, but prosecutors in Nashville, Tenn., were unfazed. They used it to augment the sparse evidence from 1995, and in October 2012 the now-healthier Washington was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 51 more years in prison.

Democracy in Action
Getting Out the Vote: (1) Just before a primary election in June, Albuquerque, N.M., TV station KOB apparently caught, on camera, a poll worker for two county government candidates offering potential voters miniature bottles of whiskey to sip during free rides to early voting centers. (2) Los Angeles’ KCBS-TV reported in October that leaflets sponsored by the Progress and Collaboration Slate for its local candidates in Eagle Rock, Calif., also mentioned an offer of $40 worth of “medical-grade marijuana” as incentive for voting. (3) Carme Cristina Lima, 32, running for town councillor in Itacoatiara, Brazil, was arrested in October for allegedly passing out cocaine packets attached to her campaign leaflets.

• Colleen Lachowicz won her contest for a Maine state senate seat in November despite ridicule by opponents for her admitted devotion to the online game World of Warcraft. “Certainly,” said an opposing-party official, “the fact that she spends so much time on a video game says something about her work ethic and … immaturity.” Her WoW character is Santiaga, an “orc (Level 85) assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.

• In several high-profile races across the country in November, voters rejected candidates who had been accused of wrongdoing and corruption, but Brian Banks survived. He was elected as a Michigan state representative from Detroit, with 68 percent of the vote, even though his rap sheet includes eight felony convictions for bad checks and credit card fraud. (Campaign slogan: “You Can Bank on Banks.”) Also, Michigan’s 11th Congressional District elected reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio, whose brother had described him as “mentally unbalanced.”

Police Report Michael Carrier, 45, was arrested for soliciting prostitution in New Milford, Conn., in August—not resulting from a police sting, which is usually how arrests for that crime are made. In Carrier’s case, he was disturbing other customers at a Friendly’s restaurant because, being hard of hearing, he was shouting to the prostitute the terms of their prospective business arrangement.
Perspective Neurosurgeon Denise Crute left Colorado in 2005 after admitting to four serious mistakes (including wrong-side surgeries on patients’ brain and spine) and left Illinois several years after that, when the state medical board concluded that she made three more serious mistakes (including another wrong-side spine surgery). Nonetheless, she was not formally “disciplined” by either state in that she was permitted merely to “surrender” her licenses, which the profession does not regard as “discipline.” In November, Denver’s KMGH-TV reported that Dr. Crute had landed a job at the prestigious Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, where she treats post-surgery patients (and she informed Illinois officials recently that she is fully licensed in New York to resume performing neurosurgery).

People Different From Us Among the contestants so far on this year’s The Learning Channel cable TV series “Extreme Cheapskates”: “Roy” of Huntington, Vt., who reuses dental floss; Jeff Yeager of Accokeek, Md., who combs butcher shops for odd animal parts about to be discarded; and “Victoria” of Columbus, Ohio, who specializes in Dumpster-diving and infrequent toilet flushes that involve, according to one report, personalized urine jars. The season’s star is expected to be “Kay,” from New York, who is shown on camera demonstrating the nonessential nature of toilet paper by wiping herself with soap and water while seated on the throne.

Least Competent Criminals Rookie Mistakes: (1) Arthur Bundrage, 28, was arrested in Syracuse, N.Y., in October after he returned to the Alliance Bank—which he had just robbed minutes earlier—because he discovered that the employee had given him less than the $20,000 his demand note ordered. Officers arrived to find Bundrage standing by the front doors, trying to get back in. (2) A September theft from a sofa superstore in Northampton, England, ended badly for two men, who had just loaded a pair of couches (worth the equivalent of about $650 each) into their truck and were about to drive off. However, the store manager rushed out and, noticing the truck’s unfastened back door, reached in and pulled the sofas out, leaving the men to drive away empty-handed. The sequence was captured on surveillance video, leading store owner Mark Kypta to liken it to “something out of a Benny Hill film.”