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Lead Story

In June two men and a woman brought the corpse of Thozamile Patrick Apolis, seated in a wheelchair, into a First National Bank in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and tried to "help" him withdraw his pension. When the teller asked for Apolis's signature, the three explained that he was sick and they were his next of kin. The teller insisted that they wake him up and called 911, while a bank customer tried to check his pulse. The "relatives" fled, abandoning the corpse, before police showed up, though one witness said they stuck around long enough to try to sell the wheelchair to the arriving ambulance crew.

Such a Thoughtful Son, to Provide for His Mom

Reversing its decision of last year, a New York federal appeals court ruled in August that when Daniel Critchlow died in 1999 while engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation it was an "accident" rather than a "self-inflicted injury," and thus Shirley Critchlow is entitled to death benefits under her son's insurance policy.

The Classic Middle Name (All New)

Arrested and charged with murder: David Wayne Mears (Ludington, Michigan, June), Edward Wayne Bryant (Houston, August), Kenith Wayne Sherrill (Yakima, Washington, July), Chadwick Wayne Wallace (Alton, Illinois, August), Timothy Wayne Johnson (Raleigh, North Carolina, September). Already serving a life sentence for murder but newly charged with three more murders: Alexander Wayne Watson Jr. (Anne Arundel County, Maryland, July). Already serving a life sentence for murder but convicted of murdering a fellow inmate: Shannon Wayne Agofsky (Beaumont, Texas, July).

Unclear on the Concept

According to an August police report in the Dispatch of Brainerd, Minnesota, thieves broke into a First Integrity Bank in nearby Baxter, then used a hammer to break through a wall and into the adjacent Lakes Area Eyecare store, making off with "numerous" pairs of sunglasses.

After Nashville federal judge Thomas A. Higgins found David Bowman, 41, guilty in June of violating the terms of his probation for selling cocaine, he asked Bowman if he had anything to say. Instead of asking for leniency in sentencing, Bowman expressed his concern about the discomforts of travel by prison bus and asked if Judge Higgins would personally drive him back to jail. Higgins tacked four months onto Bowman's remaining three years of prison time.

Questionable Judgments

New York City judge Laura Blackburne was charged in August with violating judicial procedures after helping Derek Sterling, in court for a review of his progress in drug rehab, escape out a side door of her courtroom to avoid a detective waiting to arrest him for robbery. She accused the detective of being dishonest about his intentions and said he should have gotten a warrant. (Sterling was later cleared of the robbery charge.)

In May Cynthia Gorden filed a lawsuit in Chicago asking a judge to block the airing of what she called her "embarrassing" appearance on Judge Mathis. In the suit, Gorden, who auditioned for the chance to sue her mother on the show, said the program staff directed her to act in a "demeaning" manner during the taping.

Least Competent Criminals

Bradley S. Shugars, 21, was arrested for the robbery of a Phillips 66 gas station in Avon, Indiana, with his 18-year-old cousin Karl D. Carnes. Police found Shugars waiting in the getaway car (which contained the stack of cash and two cartons of cigarettes stolen in the heist) behind another gas station Carnes was allegedly trying to hold up and quickly got a confession out of him. According to the arresting officer, the obviously inexperienced Shugars began to cry and complained, "Everybody can rob you, but you can't rob nobody."

Update

In July German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim announced that by December he'll have finished his movie based on the story of cannibal Armin Meiwes, who's serving eight and a half years for killing, dismembering, and eating Bernd Jurgen Brandes, apparently with Brandes's consent. The film, whose working title translates as "Your Heart in My Head," has been subsidized in part by a regional film foundation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. According to a Reuters report, one scene depicts Brandes's head visiting Meiwes in prison and encouraging him to take pride in what he's accomplished.

Readers' Choice

Survival Instinct: Earlier this month Jerry Allen Bradford of Pensacola, Florida, decided to put his seven German-shepherd-mix puppies down because, he told police afterward, he couldn't find homes for them. He'd already shot three with a .38-caliber revolver and was holding the next two in his arms when one of them pressed the trigger with its paw, firing a bullet into Bradford's wrist. Bradford was charged with felony animal cruelty and treated at a hospital; the four surviving dogs were put up for adoption.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Beslchwender.

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