Lead Story

A North Carolina appeals court overturned Timothy Stone’s drug conviction in September, holding that the trial court should have excluded evidence obtained by police in a body search Stone consented to. Appellate judges ruled that when Stone agreed to the search, he couldn’t have reasonably expected that officers would pull open the waist of his sweatpants and shine a flashlight on his testicles, beneath which they noticed a container of cocaine.

Questionable Decisions

In November, after receiving numerous complaints from animal-rights groups and baffled shoppers, the upscale New York mens’ accessories store Jack Spade stopped selling its new $40 frog dissection kit–a cloth bag containing (according to Reuters) a vacuum-sealed dead frog, scissors, forceps, probes, instructions, and a moist towelette. And earlier this month, acting at the insistence of a mother angry that her 12-year-old son had opened a Christmas present ahead of schedule, police in Rock Hill, South Carolina, arrested the boy for petty larceny, cuffed him, and held him in custody until after church.

Compelling Explanations

Ricardo Meana, 81, was charged with attempted murder in November after his 82-year-old wife (who reportedly has Alzheimer’s) was found in a supermarket parking lot, left alone in her wheelchair inside the couple’s minivan with a plastic bag tied over her head. Meana, who was in the store at the time, allegedly told authorities that his wife had felt sick and he’d put the bag on her head in case she vomited.

According to a September report by WFAA TV in Dallas on a woman’s lawsuit against the hospital in Ennis, Texas, where she was sexually assaulted during a 2004 colonoscopy, the perpetrator, Dr. Aniruddha Chitale (who pleaded guilty last year), insisted at deposition that the act that caused his semen to wind up on the woman’s face had been “unintentional.”

The best policy: Masashi Kamata, 28, was arrested in Nagoya, Japan, in November after police found roughly 5,000 pairs of used and allegedly stolen children’s shoes in a warehouse space he’d rented. He reportedly told authorities, “I was enjoying their smell.”

Names in the News

Pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Pierre, South Dakota, in April: Austin First in Trouble. (His victim was his father, Bernard First in Trouble.) Sentenced to life (at age 15) for murder in Providence in November: Phearin Rot. Linebacker at South Sumter High School in Bushnell, Florida, profiled in the Orlando Sentinel in August: Yourhighness Morgan.

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced

Last month in Houston former Enron executive Michael Kopper was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in financial crimes at the company. According to a report in the Washington Blade, prosecutors have been able to force the spouses of other Enron figures to forfeit illegally gained assets held in their name; but since federal and Texas law don’t recognize gay unions, the $9 million in stolen money that went to Kopper’s domestic partner, William Dodson, would be much harder to recoup and authorities don’t plan to go after it.

The Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, is the nation’s largest toxic-waste site, a former open-pit copper mine more than a mile square that now holds 40 billion gallons of poisonous water. Amid ongoing discussion about how to clean it up, researchers at Montana Tech have identified more than 160 “extremophiles”–microorganisms that thrive in toxicity–in the water and have reported, most recently in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in July, that some may be effective at fighting cancer.

People Different From Us

According to a November profile in Canada’s National Post, a 41-year-old engineer in suburban Toronto–identified only by his online name, Witesock–has accumulated roughly 800 pairs of used socks worn by professional athletes and maintains a Web site featuring pictures, shot from midthigh down, of himself modeling his collection. (Sometimes one sock is seen pushed down to reveal an undersock or shin guard.) Witesock, who claimed his wife wasn’t aware of his hobby (she knew he had an “unusual number” of socks but hadn’t found the stashes in the basement and garage), told the Post that he wasn’t himself a fetishist but had at times accommodated some very specific requests from other sock fans; in one case, an Australian aficionado asked for a photo of Witesock wearing a particular pair of rugby socks with pie all over his face.

Bad Multitasking

Noel Methot, 24, was reportedly driving in Orlando in November while arguing with her boyfriend on her cell phone; apparently failing to see a sign warning that the road was ending, she drove at an estimated 50 miles per hour through a section of Lake Haven Park well populated with dogs and dog walkers (none was hit), flew about 30 feet off an embankment, and landed in a pond. Police said Methot, who was not seriously injured, would likely be cited for inattentive driving.

Least Competent Criminals

Kimberly Baker, 22, filed family court petitions this summer in Warrensburg, New York, seeking child support for her two-year-old daughter. Officials soon realized that the person identified as the girl’s father, now 16, would have been only 13 at the time of her conception, and in October Baker was arrested for second-degree rape.

Least Competent Animals

In November a cow escaped from its paddock near Bundaberg, Australia, ran down to the nearby beach, and in front of more than 100 onlookers spent several hours swimming in the ocean; it resisted all attempts to lead it back to shore and eventually drowned. And in October in Vancouver, Washington, a Doberman pinscher named Victoria jumped onto an electric stove in her owner’s apartment and accidentally turned on a burner, setting a fire that did roughly $100,000 of damage; it was the second fire she had started this way in the past year.

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