Lead Story

Anthony Mesa went to court in DeLand, Florida, in October to explain why he’d failed to take a scheduled drug test the month before: he suffers from shy bladder syndrome, he said, and is thus unable to urinate with others around. The 22-year-old Mesa, a former convenience store clerk, was required to take the test as part of his sentence for an incident last year in which he urinated into a bottle of Mountain Dew and replaced it in the store’s refrigerator case, causing the customer who later drank it to become violently ill.

The Litigious Society

While dining at Angellino’s in Palm Harbor, Florida, with his girlfriend in March, 54-year-old Ralph Paul ate the five shrimp and five scallops that came with his entree, then sent back the rest of the dish and asked that it be taken off the check because there hadn’t been enough seafood. After an argument with the owner, the couple left without paying their $46 bill; soon police contacted Paul, saying he’d be arrested for fraud if he didn’t pay up. He decided to fight the charges: in an October trial his lawyer, hired from a New York firm at $500 an hour, argued that Paul’s “code of honor,” developed during 26 years in the air force, forbade him to back down and pay for a meal he wasn’t happy with, and a jury (who grew visibly restless as the day wore on, the St. Petersburg Times reported) took half an hour to acquit him.

Compelling Explanations

According to an Associated Press report in September, a man arrested in the Nigerian village of Isseluku for killing his brother told police that he had simply been trying to drive goats off his property; after he struck one with an ax, it was transformed into his brother’s corpse. And in the same month, a Swiss motorist pulled over in eastern Ontario for driving 100 miles per hour in a 60-mph zone told police that the lack of goats on Canadian roads made him feel he could go as fast as he liked.

In Bristol, England, in October Charles Henson was convicted of attempting to murder his estranged wife, who is severely allergic to latex, by putting on a surgical glove and forcing his hand into her mouth. Henson testified that he couldn’t have done it, as it was prohibited by the contract he’d drawn up governing their dominant/submissive relationship: “In section four of the contract, it says the master does not have a right to kill the slave.”

Creme de la Weird

According to a report in the Mountain Democrat of Placerville, California, Colt

Langstaff returned to his house in nearby Cool from a weekend trip in September to find his front fence lying flat, an unknown pickup truck parked sideways in the driveway, and his possessions littered all over the lawn. A man wearing only a sheet came out the back door and asked Langstaff what he was doing there, then fled. According to a subsequent sheriff’s report, the alleged intruder (later picked up and identified as 37-year-old Terence Dean) had apparently left all the faucets running and placed packages of meat in the sink and tub; trails of potting soil led to a Buddha statue set atop a bongo drum and to three plant stands, each holding a teddy bear, sitting inside the truck. In the kitchen were a bowl of unpopped popcorn, a bowl containing water and Langstaff’s car keys, and a cup of water holding a scrap of paper that read “I love Cherry.”

On the Campaign Trail

Korinne Barnes, 29, withdrew as a candidate for the school committee in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in September. She said her quitting the race was due to threatening phone calls received by family members, but the announcement came a week after an anonymous source directed a Providence Journal reporter to Barnes’s MySpace page (it was quickly taken down), where she’d discussed getting drunk and described herself as a “voluptuous chocolate sister with a big booty.”

Least Competent Criminals

In September 35-year-old Richard Ramos allegedly fled when a law enforcement vehicle tried to pull him over just north of Houston. When he was finally caught after a 25-minute chase down U.S. 59, Ramos (who was already serving a weekend-only sentence for evading arrest) reportedly told officers he’d believed that recent changes to Houston Police Department pursuit policy meant they weren’t allowed to go after him; they pointed out that they weren’t Houston police but deputies with the Harris County sheriff’s office. (And anyway, the new HPD pursuit rules, designed to limit chases following minor violations, had been put on hold.)

Least Competent Civil Disobedience

Also in Houston in September, state senate candidate Michael Kubosh ran a red light at a camera-monitored intersection, as he’d publicly announced beforehand that he would; his plan was to use the resulting $75 ticket to challenge the camera system in court. However, a Houston police officer was stationed nearby to witness the infraction and write Kubosh a misdemeanor ticket, which overrides any camera ticket and carries a fine of up to $200. (Kubosh said he’d try again more discreetly.)

Undignified Deaths

In America we use deer: A 50-year-old driver was killed in the outback of Western Australia in October when a large kangaroo was struck by another vehicle and flung through his windshield.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weirdnewstips@yahoo.com. © 2006 Chuck Shepherd

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