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News Quirks 06.08.05 

Published June 8, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

Jason Anthony Arnold, 29, and James Keith Benton, 38, spent 40 minutes planning the details of a burglary at a mobile home dealership in Rogersville, Tennessee. When they showed up, broke into one of the mobile homes and carried out a refrigerator, however, Hawkins County sheriff's deputies were waiting for them. A dispatcher had alerted the officers after hearing the suspects plotting the crime on a cell phone. "Apparently with this type of phone, if you hold down the number 9, it automatically dials 911," detective Eve Jackson said. "So Mr. Arnold's phone was in his front jeans pocket, and somehow the number 9 got pressed, and central dispatch heard everything they said."

Expressions of Faith

Pastor Thorkild Grosboell of Denmark's Lutheran Protestant Church, who was suspended for sowing "deep confusion" by proclaiming that he did not believe in God, was reinstated after he met with his superior, the bishop of Roskilde, and declared that he in fact did believe in God. He even signed two statements to that effect.

- In West Springfield, Massachusetts, Kimberly M. Cloutier accused discount retailer Costco of religious discrimination after it fired her for refusing to remove her eyebrow ring. She insisted that she wears it as a sign of faith, explaining that she belongs to the Church of Body Modification. Both a trial judge and a federal appeals court have ruled in favor of the company, which argued that Cloutier's beliefs may be political or social, but not religious. Cloutier said that she intends to take her appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

Double Trouble

Julian Castro, 30, a city councilor running for mayor of San Antonio, Texas, admitted having his twin brother stand in for him at the city's annual River Parade. Videotapes of the event show State Rep. Joaquin Castro aboard the barge for city council members waving at onlookers, many of whom mistook him for the candidate. "We can't help that we look like each other," Julian Castro said, explaining that he had a conflicting event and didn't intend to deceive anyone. He denied that the two had ever stood in for each other before in their official duties.

Second-Amendment Follies

While Walter Gladkowski, 65, was looking at a 9mm pistol that was supposed to be unloaded at a gun show in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, the weapon fired. Gladkowski was treated for a gunshot wound to the shin.

Big-Rig Addict

Facing a charge of joyriding, Jason L. Marshall of Lakewood, New Jersey, told Superior Court Judge James N. Citta that he needed treatment, not incarceration. He explained that every time he gets high on illegal drugs, he feels a compulsion to drive tractor-trailers, even if they aren't his. Responding that he didn't know of any treatment for "a truckaholic," Citta sentenced Marshall to 18 months in jail and suspended his driver's license for 10 years.

The Pizza Connection

Twenty inmates at an Australian maximum-security prison in Hobart, Tasmania, ended a two-day siege and released a guard after prison officials agreed to meet the prisoners' demand. "Our staff member was negotiated out with the delivery of 15 pizzas," Graeme Barber, Tasmania's director of prisons, told reporters.

- Pizzeria owner Harjit Singh admitted that he lied when he swore that Canadian immigration minister Judy Sgro had offered to help him avoid deportation. Sgro had resigned in January after Singh filed an affidavit accusing her of agreeing to help him stay in Canada in exchange for free pizzas for her election campaign staff.

- Seven teen-agers and their teacher were hospitalized in serious condition after sharing a poisoned pizza that a Brazilian woman sent one of the teens, whom she apparently had a crush on. Police in Petrolina said they have a letter addressed to the boy, identified only as Paulo, and a description of the suspect. "She was either an ex-girlfriend," police investigator Roberto Fonseca de Oliveira said, "or just had a strong interest in the guy."

- After the manager of a Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria in Aurora, Colorado, complained to police that a man was helping himself to the salad bar but wouldn't show proof that he had paid for the food, officers used a Taser stun gun to subdue the man, identified as Danon Gale, 29. "They beat this man in front of all these kids, then Tased him in my sister's lap," Felicia Mayo, who was at the crowded establishment with her 7-year-old son, told the Rocky Mountain News. "They had no regard for the effect this would have on the kids. This is Chuck E. Cheese, you know."

- Police in Leominster, Massachusetts, reported that two young women and a juvenile female, all cousins, beat and kicked a woman at Chuck E. Cheese's during a dispute over a photo booth. The victim, Eduarda Silveira, her husband and their 6-month-old baby girl, waited for about 30 minutes to take their photograph while one of the suspects occupied the booth the whole time. According to Officer Matthew Swaine, when Silveira asked the woman if she could use the machine for just one picture, the woman responded with verbal abuse and insults, then, joined by the other suspects, attacked her, eventually knocking her to the ground and kicking her. After Swaine arrested the three attackers, court documents showed that one of them, Claritza Castillo, 18, had previously been charged with assault and battery for biting off her aunt's finger.

Slightest Provocation

A jury in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, convicted Michael L. Austin, 21, of gunning down Auckland Jackson, 50, who Austin insisted owed him $75 for trying to fix his car. Following the shooting, Austin and his wife, Monique Maxwell, were arrested in Lancaster County after their own car broke down.

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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