Lead Story

A Tokyo company, Juonsha, recently began offering a mail-order curse kit featuring a straw doll to represent the hexee and eight accessories, including nails, a curse manual, and a curse-blocking doll to ward off return curses. The company at first marketed to children who’d been bullied at school, but discovered the major market is women who hope to put spells on neighbors, in-laws, and husbands. Among the hints in the manual: “It is important to specify the kind of misfortune [you wish the victim to have]. . . . It is important to imagine the unhappy scenes.”

Courtroom Antics

In Detroit in September the lawyer for accused murderer Rondelle Woods, 23, rapped part of his closing argument to the jury: “Went to a party / Sweet 16 / Decided to stay on the scene.” Woods was acquitted. But in Las Vegas in December Eric Clark, 22, pleaded with the judge for a light sentence with the rap: “I’m sellin’ dope / And I was gettin’ paid / Too blind to see / How I was gettin’ played.” He got 23 years.

In a Saint Louis courtroom on October 19 accused rapist Anthony Minor had his spirits temporarily lifted when the victim, who was on the witness stand, confidently assured her attorney that her assailant was in the courtroom but then mistakenly pointed to a stranger seated close to the jury box. (Minor wasn’t helped by the mistake, since he’d already admitted to having sex with her, though he said it was consensual.)

In November and December two judges in Fiji came under fire from women’s groups for decisions in rape cases. In one case Fiji’s chief justice said that a teenage girl who’d been raped at knifepoint wouldn’t suffer because she was already sexually experienced. In another case a judge freed six men who admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old girl, saying that the girl was “well-built” and looked older.

In September in Pulaski, Tennessee, juvenile court judge Robert E. Lee Jr. was annoyed at defendant Heather Adams, 16, and honored her parents’ request by ushering them into a private office, supplying a six-foot-long bamboo reed, and permitting each parent to smack the girl eight times on her clothed bottom. Lee said the parents had planned to spank Adams anyway and that he’d supervised them so they wouldn’t be accused of child abuse.

In an October trial in Corpus Christi, Texas, involving alleged indecent activities by one man toward another in a bathroom stall, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney brought full-size models of the stall into the courtroom to demonstrate what did or did not take place.

In April defendant Arthur Hollingsworth, on trial for armed robbery of a Houston convenience store, waived his constitutional right of silence and testified on his own behalf. Prosecutor Jay Hileman got him to admit that he was in the store at the time it was robbed and that he was armed. Then Hileman said, “Mr. Hollingsworth, you’re guilty, aren’t you?” “No,” replied Hollingsworth. “Mr. Hollingsworth, you’re guilty, aren’t you?” said Hileman again. “Yeah,” said Hollingsworth. Hileman said he had no further questions.

In June police found Christine Walker, 23, and Jeremy Buckels, 24, in a Council Bluffs, Iowa, park after its 10 PM closing. After negotiating with prosecutors, the two decided to plead guilty and pay a fine. But Walker didn’t want a trespassing conviction on her record, so the prosecutor arranged for the conviction to be listed as a violation of a 1975 city ordinance against worrying black squirrels, the city’s mascot.

Compelling Explanations

The U.S. Postal Service in Merrifield, Virginia, fired Bruce Henry after rejecting the last of a reported 200 complaints he filed. Henry had contended that a female employee’s partly unbuttoned blouse distracted other workers and could lead to missorted mail.

According to the testimony of a police officer from Durham, North Carolina, when Caren Magwood, 23, was arrested in October he insisted that everybody know he sold cocaine. He’d been arrested and accused of selling fake crack cocaine, but wanted to set the record straight because he was more afraid of being killed by a customer who thought Magwood had cheated him than of being convicted of selling real drugs.

Leroy Byrd, 48, was convicted in November in Gloucester, Virginia, of illegally wiretapping his ex-girlfriend’s phone. Byrd contended that the wiretap was necessary because he thought a Richmond witch doctor and the ex-girlfriend were preparing to put a hex on him and he needed evidence so the police could intervene.

In Kansas City, Missouri, in June Keith Smith, 26, was convicted of strangling and stabbing to death a minister and his housekeeper. In a videotaped statement to the police at the time of the murders Smith said Chucky, the murderous doll in the movie Child’s Play, had caused the mayhem.

Anthony S. St. Laurent, who’s accused of running a $42 million local gambling ring in Providence, Rhode Island, and is thought by police to be an organized crime leader, has succeeded in postponing his trial several times. According to St. Laurent’s lawyer, he’s far too ill to stand trial, as he suffers from migraine headaches, high blood pressure, and dysfunctional rectal muscles, which necessitate up to 40 enemas a day.

Miscellaneous Eloquence

Confessed murderer Willie Lee Davidson, 21, apologized in September in a Memphis court for his crime, telling everyone that he and his accomplice were sorry for beating a woman to death and running her over with a car: “We aren’t criminals. If we had gotten away with it, it would never have happened again.”

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.