Sheriff’s deputies charged Jonathan G.
Parker, 19, with breaking into a home in Berkeley County, W.Va., after
the victim noticed he used her computer to check his Facebook account
but forgot to log out before leaving the home with two diamond rings.
Scientists investigating a large crater
in Latvia, initially believed to have been caused by a meteorite,
concluded it was a hoax. Uldis Nulle, a scientist at the Latvian
Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center, said he and other experts
agreed after visiting the site that the 27-foot-wide and 9-foot-deep
hole near the Estonian border couldn’t have been caused by a meteorite.
It was too tidy.
Spot the Silver Lining
William Seago, 52, pleaded guilty to
careless driving after running over and killing friend and co-worker
Keith Warman, 55, while making a three-point turn in a 26-ton truck.
BBC News reported Seago was born blind in his right eye but received
his commercial driving license in 2003 by memorizing the lower two
lines of an eye chart to pass the exam. When Judge Neil Ford of Bristol
Crown Court heard that since the accident, Seago has lost his wife and
his truck-driving job and now works at a cheese factory, he promised
Seago no jail time.
Ivy League Follies
Harvard University lost nearly $2
billion last year by investing the money it uses to pay for its daily
operations in its endowment fund instead of keeping it in safer bank
accounts. Typically, The Boston Globe noted after the
university’s disclosure, institutions manage their cash accounts
conservatively in order to have funds readily available. Harvard’s move
had paid off in previous years, when the stock market was rising,
according to the school’s chief financial officer, Daniel S. Shore, but
now the endowment has lost 27 percent, dropping to $26 billion.
A Buddhist university in Seoul, South
Korea, accused Yale University of “reckless” and “wanton” conduct for
saying it awarded a Ph.D. to a job candidate who subsequently turned
out not to have the degree. The New York Times reported the
confirmation letter to Dongguk University was a fake but that the Yale
administrator whose name was on it confirmed its authenticity by fax,
apparently without checking Yale’s records or even noticing that the
administrator’s own name was misspelled. Two years later, Yale
announced that the candidate, well-known artist Shin Jeong-ah, had no
degree, but denied it had ever received the earlier inquiry or sent a
confirmation letter. Shin resigned. Later Yale admitted it had done
everything Dongguk said it did but only “in the rush of business.” When
Dongguk finally filed a lawsuit, Yale accused the school of trying “to
shift the blame for its own inadequate efforts on Yale.”
Too Fat to Kill
Edward Ates, 62, couldn’t have killed
his son-in-law, his attorney, Walter Lesnevich declared, because he’s
too fat. Lesnevich said his 5-foot-8, 285-pound client was too out of
shape to climb and descend the stairs where police said the killer was
perched when he shot Paul Duncsak, 40, in Ramsey, N.J. “You look at Ed,
and you don’t need to hear it from a doctor,” Lesnevich told reporters
but admitted Ates has hurt his case with the jury by losing 40 pounds
while in jail awaiting trial. “It visually impacts it,” he said. “I’m
probably the only person in his life that told him not to lose weight.”
Irish authorities accused Roy Martin
Kerr, 31, and Tanya Diana Holmes, 21, of trying to kill a Belfast
doctor and his family “by setting fires in the middle of the night
around every exit from their home.” BBC News reported Kerr and Holmes
were about to burn the family’s cars when Kerr accidentally set himself
on fire. His screams of pain alerted the family.
Authorities in Pittsfield, Mass., said a
man apparently attempting suicide set himself on fire, then for some
unknown reason ran into a neighboring house, which caught on fire,
forcing the family living there to evacuate. Homeowner Stephen
Prendergast complained to The Berkshire Eagle the neighbor not
only put him and his family in peril, but also partially damaged his
silver 1978 Corvette while entering the Prendergasts’ house.
William Gorzynski, 15, stabbed his 14-year-old brother to death in Broward County, Fla., police there told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, while the two argued about the speaker volume of a home computer.
Scott Allen Elder, 22, shot a stranger
in Chatham County, Ga., police said, after one reached the other by
misdialing a number, and the two subsequently exchanged a series of
hostile phone calls and text messages. The Savannah Morning News reported the two agreed to meet at a drug store parking lot, where the shooting occurred.
Loophole of a Lifetime
North Carolina announced the release of
20 violent criminals serving life sentences, after one of them
successfully petitioned the courts to recognize that old laws defined a
life sentence as 80 years and that a subsequent law cut those sentences
in half. The change affected sentences handed down before 1981.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, in 2005, former
death row inmate Bobby Bowden, now 60, appealed for his release,
arguing that he had served his “life sentence” (less time off for good
behavior). In October, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower-court
ruling, resulting in the release of Bowden and 19 others, most in their
50s and 60s.
Aaron Siebers, 29, who works at a video
store in Edgewater, Colo., told police three men attacked him with
knives but later admitted making up the story. The Denver Post reported Siebers said he stabbed himself to get time off from work.
Bad driving may be genetic, according to
researchers at the University of California Irvine. Their study,
reported in the journal Cerebral Cortex, found that people with
a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a
driving test than people with a different DNA sequence. About 30
percent of Americans have that mutant gene, according to study leader
Steven Cramer. “These people make more errors from the get-go,” he
explained, “and they forget more of what they learned after time away.”
Accused hit-and-run driver Edward
Cespedes-Rodriguez, 34, testified in a Portland, Ore., court that he
didn’t see the victim because he was fumbling for a dropped cell phone.
Kate Altermatt told The Oregonian she doubted his assertion
considering she was wearing a 6-foot-tall bright orange bunny costume
and riding a pedicab that was lit up with reflectors and a blinking red
light. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin Immergut agreed and
found Cespedes-Rodriguez guilty.
Bulgarian prosecutors announced they’re
investigating a new gambling game, called “Russian road roulette,”
where drivers bet as much as $7,400 that they can speed through red
lights at busy intersections without crashing into other cars or
hitting pedestrians. Onlookers also wager on the outcome. Vanio
Stoevski, head of the Sofia Road Police, attributed two deaths to the
game, telling Reuters they occurred when a speeding motorcyclist
crashed into a spectator.
Police who stopped Jaime Aguirre, 42, in
Brimfield, Ohio, for a traffic violation found he was driving with
hundreds of X-rays, mammograms, videos and pictures of women and
children. Calling it “one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen,”
Police Chief David Blough told Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, “He
had images of neck-to-knees X-rays and mammograms of women and girls
under the age of 18, which we believe he was using for sexual
gratification.” Aguirre works at a medical imaging center.
Way to Go
A closing door at a paramedic station in
Caldwell, Idaho, crushed Melissa R. Farris, 35. KBCI News reported that
Farris, a former paramedic at the station, placed a bogus 911 call to
dispatch paramedics, then tried to crawl under the door before it shut,
possibly to obtain prescription medication she knew was inside. When
the door trapped her, she called 911 again, saying,
“Medic…4…help…door.” The dispatcher asked her location; she repeated,
“Medic…4.” “They didn’t understand what she was saying or where she
was,” Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood told The Idaho Statesmen. “They knew Medic 4 was out on a call.” Paramedics returning from the false alarm found Farris but couldn’t revive her.
Unclear on the Concept
Raibin Raof Osman, 20, called 911 to
report that a McDonald’s in Aloha, Ore., had left out a box of orange
juice from his drive-through order. The Oregonian reported that
a restaurant employee later called 911 to report that Osman and his
companions were blocking the drive-through lane, knocking on restaurant
windows and intimidating employees. He was arrested and fined $300.
Calvin Hoover, 21, called 911 in Marion
County, Ore., to report someone had broken into his truck at a tavern
and stolen cash, a jacket and some marijuana. The Statesman Journal
said Hoover called 911 again to complain that sheriff’s deputies hadn’t
arrived, but the dispatcher had trouble understanding him because he
was driving and stopping several times to vomit. When deputies did show
up, they charged Hoover with driving under the influence of intoxicants.
The company responsible for the
environmental cleanup of Hanford, Wash., used $300,000 of federal
stimulus money to fund a helicopter survey of nearly 16 square miles
looking for radioactive rabbit poop. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
reported that 50 million gallons of liquid waste, laced with
radioactive cesium and strontium salts, were dumped in a
13.7-square-mile site and a 2-square-mile site during the Cold War.
Even though the dumping ended more than 40 years year ago, jackrabbits
routinely burrowed in those sites, found the salt, liked it, licked it
and later pooped it, leaving slightly radioactive scat all over the
ground. Dee Millikin of CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., the company
responsible for the cleanup, said the helicopter survey would shorten
the cleanup from months to days.
News and Blues is compiled from the
nation’s press. To contribute, submit original clippings, citing date
and source, to Roland Sweet in care of The New Times.