News Quirks 05.04.05
Curses, Foiled Again After Christopher Seward, 19, accused a neighbor in Lake City, Michigan, of taking his bottle of liquor, he called 911 and said that the neighbor had stabbed him. Missaukee County sheriff's deputies arrived to find Seward dead. Their investigation determined that Seward had stabbed himself twice in the chest after making the call, intending to get the neighbor in trouble but the scheme backfired when the knife pierced his left ventricle.
Blame the Messenger After Jack William Pacheco, 35, of Chowchilla, California, was arrested for methamphetamine possession, he denied the allegation and tried to suppress news of his arrest by spending hundreds of dollars to buy 500 to 600 copies of the Chowchilla News from the newspaper's office, gas stations, convenience stores and coin-operated news racks. The weekly paper costs 50 cents. "I have a whole garage full of newspapers," Pacheco declared. On learning that no copies were for sale anywhere in the city, the paper printed another 500.
Did You Ever Notice? When Andy Rooney, 86, led off a parade of celebrity witnesses during a fraud trial in White Plains, New York, the Associated Press reported that the CBS news commentator entered the courtroom muttering to himself, then questioned the wording of the oath to tell the truth "so help you God." "I don't know about God," he said. While on the stand, he tried to interrogate a lawyer, prompting federal Judge Colleen McMahon to put her head in her hands and declare, "No, no, no, Mr. Rooney. The first rule is that the witness never gets to ask any questions."
Homeland Insecurity After American translator Ahmed Fathy Mehalba pleaded guilty to taking secret documents from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the FBI admitted that it accidentally returned the documents to Mehalba. Although Mehalba had the documents for only a "matter of hours," before agents retrieved them, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ricciuti conceded, "Someone in the bureau obviously made a serious mistake."
Everyone's a Winner Officials at Iowa's Bluff's Run Casino acknowledged that a bill-changing machine paid off better than any of its gambling machines after an employee mistakenly filled it with $100 bills instead of $20 bills. "It went on for about six hours," Janae Sternberg, the casino's finance director, said, explaining that the machine turned up $46,640 short.
Way to Go Derek Kieper, 21, died near Lincoln, Nebraska, when the Ford Explorer he was riding in hit a patch of ice, skidded off the road and rolled over several times. Authorities said that the driver and another passenger were wearing seat belts and suffered minor injuries, but Kieper, who was in the rear seat, wasn't wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Kieper had recently written a column for his college newspaper attacking seat-belt laws as intrusions on individual liberties. "There seems to be a die-hard group of non-wearers out there who simply do not wish to buckle up no matter what the government does," he wrote. "I belong to this group."
Loves the Food Kaiser Permanente's San Rafael Medical Center in California filed a suit against Sarah Nome, 82, and took away her newspaper and television privileges because she has been in the hospital for more than a year but refuses to leave, even though she admits that she is in good health. "It isn't that I'm not ready to go," she said. "I just have nowhere to go."
According to her daughter, Jane Sands, Nome, who cannot walk since breaking both her legs in 2002, was receiving care at a nursing home, which sent her to the hospital for a weeklong psychiatric evaluation. The hospital said that she was in good mental health and ordered her released. But because she is suing the nursing home, she and her daughter said that she had no choice but to stay put. Her unpaid medical bills top $1 million, which is the basis of Kaiser's suit, although Kaiser attorney Stanley Watson said, "We're really not interested in her money. We just want her cooperation."
Free at Last A tip generated by the TV show "America's Most Wanted" led law enforcement officials to a mobile home in Campti, Texas, where they arrested Randolph Dial, a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Granite, Oklahoma, 11 years ago. They also found Bobbi Parker, the wife of an assistant warden at the prison, who claimed that Dial abducted her when he fled. She told authorities that she stayed with Dial the whole time out of fear for her family. "She was living under the impression if she ever tried to get away, I would get away, and I would make her regret it, particularly toward her family," Dial told reporters after his arrest. "I didn't mean it, but she didn't know that." After the FBI returned Parker, 42, to her husband, special agent Salvador Hernandez said, "The reunion went well."
- After spending 13 years in a Michigan prison for bludgeoning a 19-year-old waitress to death with a whiskey bottle, Larry Souter, 53, was released when new evidence showed that the victim actually died from being struck by a motor home driven by someone else. Having read about Souter's appeal in the Grand Rapids Press, a woman contacted authorities to say that she believes her father struck the victim with the side mirror of his RV. The father died five years ago, but the daughter said she had suspected his involvement ever since the 1979 incident. "Larry Souter didn't commit a crime," his attorney, John Smietanka, said. "She could not live with that."