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Curses, Foiled Again

Police said two men making their getaway after an armed robbery in Orange County, Fla., tried to distract authorities from pursuing them by reporting a carjacking. The vehicle they described, however, was the same white Honda Accord they were driving. Law enforcement officers spotted it and arrested the suspects, charging them with filing a false report in addition to the armed robbery charge. (Orlando’s WFTV-TV)

During a traffic stop in Great Falls, Mont., Jonothan Ray Gonsalez, who had three outstanding warrants for his arrest, told police his name was Timothy Michael Koop Jr. The officer learned that Timothy Michael Koop Jr. was also wanted and arrested Gonsalez. When he told authorities his real name, they added a charge of issuing a false report. (Great Falls Tribune)

Smoking-Class Heroes

Mark Moody, 40, was taking a cigarette break on the window ledge of his second-floor apartment and talking on his cellphone when two New York City police officers stopped and asked if he intended to commit suicide. He explained the ledge was his regular smoking spot and pointed out that he was only 12 feet off the ground and would probably just sprain his ankle if he jumped. The officers insisted he come down anyway. When he refused, they summoned three ambulances and four other patrol cars, broke down Moody’s door and took him to a hospital psychiatric ward for observation. The on-duty psychiatrist interviewed him briefly, concluded he was sane, apologized and released him. Moody, who happens to be a lawyer, filed a $400,000 lawsuit against the city and the officers. (New York Post)

New Zealand’s Gambling Commission ruled that a suburban Wellington pub could operate video poker machines in an outdoor area where smoking is allowed. The Department of Internal Affairs had tried to ban the machines, citing a link between smoking and problem gambling. The Gambling Commission said that the ban would have interfered “with the enjoyment of customers carry[ing] out lawful activities” — smoking and gambling. (New Zealand’s TV 3)

Silver Lining

New York City authorities credit a post-Christmas blizzard with saving the life of Vangelis “Angelos” Kapatos, 26, who tried to commit suicide on Jan. 2 by jumping from his ninth-floor apartment window. Police said he landed on top of a mountain of trash bags that had been piling up since nearly 2.5 feet of snow fell on Dec. 26. (New York Post)

First-Amendment Follies

Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Correction changed its rules to shorten the last words of condemned prisoners after Michael Beuke, 48, took 17 minutes to make his final statement before he was executed. He spent the time reciting the rosary, apologizing and saying prayers. “The warden may impose reasonable restrictions on the content and length of the statement,” the new rules state. “The warden may also terminate a statement that he or she believes is intentionally offensive to the witness.” Dale Baich, Beuke’s public defender and a witness at the execution, insisted his client “did not filibuster.”

Ohio had allowed unlimited statements after a 1999 lawsuit challenged the existing policy, which permitted only a written statement to be read after an inmate’s death. Kentucky and Washington both impose a two-minute limit. Virginia allows statements but begins the execution a few seconds later, even if the inmate hasn’t finished. (Columbus Dispatch) No-Rest Room

Jacqueline Cutright, 70, told police she was in the bathroom of her Akron, Ohio, home around 2 a.m. when a man wearing a clown mask threw open the bathroom door and threatened her with a knife. “I was on the commode,” she said, “so it was kind of a surprise.” The intruder demanded money, took some cash and costume jewelry, then fled in Cutright’s 1991 Ford Escort. He made it to the end of the street before rolling the car twice, according to police responding to Cutright’s 911 call. Officers detained Cory Buckey, 22, who confessed after a knife fell from his pants pocket. (Akron’s WJW-TV)

A woman at a rural home in Winona County, Minn., said Nicholas Patrick Hodge, 31, stormed into the home around 2:40 a.m. and demanded property he insisted someone inside owed him. He sat on a toilet in the kitchen and refused to move, according to sheriff’s Investigator Kraig Glover, who said Hodge eventually did leave. Glover added, “I’m not sure why they had a toilet in the kitchen.” (Winona Daily News)

Reasonable Explanation

After Raymond Hartley Jr., 28, was caught using a fake penis-and-bladder device during a court-ordered drug test, he told a judge in Northampton County, Pa., he strapped on the Whizzinator only because probation officers kept making fun of the size of his real penis. Judge Michael Koury Jr. rejected Hartley’s explanation and sentenced him to prison for violating probation. (Allentown’s Morning Call)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

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Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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