Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

September 2012 Archives

A man who armed his 16-year-old nephew with a fake grenade launcher to "test" police response time is facing some very real criminal consequences for the hoax.

Police arrested Michael D. Turley, 39, of Phoenix, on Monday, nearly two months after he posted video of his stunt online, the Associated Press reports.

The clip, entitled "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test," has been viewed about 30,000 times on YouTube. It's gotten about 100 "likes" -- but more than 400 "dislikes."

The Cursing Cockatoo Case: RI Woman Appeals $15 Fine

Teaching your bird to talk can be funny but Lynne L. Taylor wasn't laughing when she got slapped with a $15 fine after her cockatoo learned to swear.

Taylor lives in Warwick, Rhode Island where a local ordinance makes it illegal for residents to let pets make habitual noise. She was sued by her neighbor who complained that Taylor's cockatoo repeatedly called the neighbor a whore.

The judge agreed and fined Taylor for the nuisance her bird caused. But she's not taking it. Taylor is appealing the decision to a higher court.

A Texas woman shot her husband in the stomach to defend her pet cat, investigators say. A purr-fect defense, perhaps? Probably not under the laws of Texas -- or in any other state, for that matter.

Deputies arrested Audrey Deen Miller, 42, of Spring, Texas, after the shooting Tuesday morning, Houston's KHOU-TV reports. Her husband was treated at a hospital and released later that day.

Miller shot her husband after he allegedly threatened to shoot one of her pet cats with a pellet gun, deputies said. "The wife was just trying to protect her cat," an assistant chief constable told KHOU.

NJ Carjacker's Escape Ruined by Stick Shift Transmission

A would-be carjacker of a Porsche 911 was foiled in his attempt to get away as he didn't know how to drive stick.

Anthony Reynolds allegedly approached a high-powered, 2008 Porsche 911 Turbo. The 18-year-old went up to the car at gunpoint and took control of the car, police said. There was just one problem, however.

As Reynolds tried to drive off, he had no clue how to put the sports car into gear. In the meantime, the car owner had taken off by foot and flagged down a police officer. A New Jersey cop later caught Reynolds, who had fled on foot, reports United Press International.

Florida Man Blames His DUI on the Squirrel

Motorists reported Warren Thomas Michael for DUI after he nearly ran several cars off the road as he swerved his way down the street. But when police pulled him over he said the squirrel made him do it.

Michael was right about one thing, there was a squirrel involved. But he failed to take into account the fact that he was still drunk.

Police pulled over his silver pickup after watching it nearly hit a stopped car, according to The Gainesville Sun. They found him driving with a squirrel under his shirt but that wasn't the only cause of the problem.

Wis. Man Arrested for Having Sex With a Sofa. Curbside.

It's not that we're judging Gerard P. Streator for being attracted to the couch on the sidewalk but his decision to have sex with the sofa in public was not a good one.

He also had bad timing. An off-duty police officer was jogging around 11 pm when he allegedly saw Streator humping the couch. When the officer called out to him, Streator attempted to flee. So the officer chased the Wisconsin man back to his apartment and contacted the police department.

He went back to the next day to find Streator which is where the story gets more interesting. Someone else was there to greet the officer while Streator was at work.

Pa. Couple Arrested for Selling Neighbor's Dog on Craigslist

Selling things on Craigslist is generally a good way to get rid of unwanted objects -- unless of course that object is your neighbor's dog. Then it's a kind of theft.

Scott and Roxanne Duff initially tipped their hand when they called police to say they'd found two dogs on their property, a golden retriever mix and a Rottweiler. Police told them to contact a shelter or dog kennel while investigators looked for their owners.

Roxanne Duff told police the Rottweiler had run away at that point. But the dogs' owner, neighbor Shawn Lerch, suspected foul play.

Mom Took Photos of Newborn in Toilet, Trash

Parents often take photos of their babies in funny places like a laundry hamper or a soup pot, but what Brittany Lester did to her baby wasn't funny. It was child abuse.

Lester took photos of her five week old baby in dangerous places around her motel room, including between the mattress and box spring, in the toilet, and in the trash. Then she sent them to her ex, the baby's dad, as way to "get a response," according to The Smoking Gun.

She got a response all right. Her ex called the police and now Lester will be spending a year in jail and three more on probation because her pictures crossed a line.

Man Disguised 1,000 Pot Plants as Christmas Trees in CA Desert

Having disguised his pot plants as Christmas Trees, Abdul Jamar probably thought he was invincible when it came to law enforcement. But there were a few problems with his plan.

One, the 'trees' were astonishingly tall for pines growing in the California desert in the summertime. Two, marijuana leaves don't look like pine needles. Three, if you've already been busted for growing pot then the cops are going to be suspicious of anything your green thumb creates.

Jamar was arrested after a sheriff's deputy found over 1000 plants growing in two 50-by-100 foot enclosures on his property. But this wasn't his first run in with the law.

Man Cites 'MythBusters' in Refusal to Take Sobriety Test

A Florida man told the cops he wasn't taking a DUI sobriety test, because "I done seen it on the MythBusters," reports TC Palm.

Thirty-five-year-old Dustan Edward Carpenter was stopped shortly after 11:00 p.m. after police spotting his Ford Focus traveling without its headlights on. Deputies say the man smelled of booze and told them that he just came from Applebee's and had one beer.

His slurred speech, mumbled speech, and bloodshot eyes suggested that he drank quite a bit more.

How to Get a $4,600 Parking Ticket

A parking ticket can be expensive but it's even more costly if when you get it the cops discover there's a lot more wrong with your car.

Amer Meqdadi, a Georgia truck driver, was parked illegally Wednesday morning at a shopping center when the problem started. Police approached his vehicle to ticket it but what they noticed made the ticket look like small potatoes.

By the time the cops were done, Meqdadi had racked up over $4,600 in tickets for various violations. Most of them could have been avoided if he learned how to park his truck.

What happens when "cool moms" go bad? For Tara Mauney of Colleyville, Texas, her alleged role in a juvenile prank could potentially land her in jail.

The pranks, tied to a preteen sleepover, involved the toilet-papering of trees and shrubbery, Dallas' WFAA-TV reports. But the vandalism also involved raw chicken stuffed inside a mailbox and peanut butter smeared on pillars.

In addition, the pranksters scrawled insults with mustard and a permanent marker, and stuck tampons doused in ketchup to a home's windows. They even placed a toilet in the driveway.

So how did Tara Mauney allegedly get caught up in all of this?

Fla. Man Accused of Beating Girlfriend with Her Dog

Anything can be used as a weapon so when nothing else was handy, Michael Wayne Jones beat his girlfriend with her own dog.

Dogs can be dangerous if they bite. But Jones allegedly used his girlfriend's small dog as a club and hit her multiple times during a fight. The police report also claims that he choked her before biking away from the scene carrying the dog.

He was caught a short time later with the dog and a cut on his right hand. He claims that he left for his safety but other witnesses don't support that statement.

Couple Caught Having Sex in Yankee Stadium Bathroom

A couple of Yankee fans were caught having sex in the bathroom stalls at Yankee Stadium. And the video proof of the tryst has now gone viral, thanks to Deadspin.

The alleged fornication started during the second inning of the Yankees matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays and actually lasted until the fourth or fifth inning.

Given the pace of baseball games (I'm guessing that those two innings lasted at least 40 minutes), and the fact that the couple was being watched by several vocal onlookers, the sexual feat was actually quite impressive and the culprits may have found a second career in porn.

It wasn't "drunk dialing" but rather drunk sexting and drunk Facebook-posting that got an alleged cell phone thief caught, literally, with his pants down.

Anthony Casey, 29, of New Albany, Ind., was arrested after he failed to show up in court on felony theft and misdemeanor obscenity charges, the local News and Tribune reports.

The sordid tale begins at a bar in New Albany, Ind., across the river from Louisville, Ky., where a woman had left her purse. When she returned for it, her cell phone was gone, according to a police affidavit.

Man Pays Traffic Ticket with 137 Origami Pigs in Dunkin Donuts Boxes

YouTube user 'Bacon Moose' was annoyed by the traffic ticket he got in a town he called a 'money trap.' To show the police how he felt he went to pay his ticket in one dollar bills folded into origami pigs.

The traffic fine was for $137 which is a lot of little pigs. He packed them up in donut boxes to present to the police.

When he showed up to make his payment it didn't go as smoothly as planned. The clerk he ran into was not impressed.

A Florida mother tried to give herself a leg up in a child-custody dispute, but here's the kicker: She ended up allegedly beating her son's father with his own prosthetic leg.

Jadian Hatfield, 23, of Pensacola, Fla., allegedly tried to kidnap her 2-year-old son from his father's home in nearby Okaloosa County, local WEAR-TV reports. About 11 p.m. on Aug. 27, she showed up at the home of Brandon Fleming, 25, accompanied by two men and a shotgun.

Suffice it to say, that is not how the court-ordered child-custody exchange was supposed to go down.

BofA Exec Can't Moon His Boss and Keep His Job, IL Court Rules

There have probably been times when you wanted to moon your boss but Jason Selch actually did moon his superiors at Bank of America.

His reward for expressing his frustrations? Selch was initially given a warning but the company then did an about-face and fired him. That happened back in 2005 and he's been fighting them about it since then.

It's not that Selch loved his job so much after his company merged with Bank of America. But he was under the impression that he could keep his job so he sued for breach of contract.

Kasia Rivera's penis-injection manslaughter case is moving forward, as the New Jersey woman has pleaded not guilty to causing a man's death.

Rivera, 35, of East Orange, N.J., printed fliers to advertise her unauthorized surgical services including penile enlargement, the Associated Press reports. Rivera had no medical license or training, prosecutors allege.

But that didn't stop her from injecting silicone into a 22-year-old man's penis in May 2011. Justin Street, a father of two from East Orange, died the next day.

Woman Trained Her Bird to Call Ex-Husband's Girlfriend a Whore

If you're thinking of training your bird to swear, consider the legal trouble that could cause you. It hasn't gone well for Lynne Taylor.

The Rhode Island woman has been sued by her ex-husband's new girlfriend, Kathleen Melker, for teaching her cockatoo to call Melker a whore.

Normally there's nothing legally you can do if someone swears at you so it seems as if training your bird to do it wouldn't make a difference. But a local Rhode Island law makes it possible to for Melker to sue Taylor for her bird's dirty language.

Should Replacing a Virgin Mary with a Gnome Be a Hate Crime?

Darlene Fraga is understandably upset that the Virgin Mary on her front yard was decapitated and the head replaced with a garden gnome, but does that make it a hate crime?

That's her claim for now after the incident which took place in Windsor, Connecticut. It happened several weeks ago when Fraga woke up to find her Virgin Mary statue sitting headless in the front yard. A week after that a gnome was placed on the statue where the head used to be.

Needlessly cruel mischief? Likely. But hate crime? The police don't agree.

Teacher of the Year Charged With Sex with Student

The high of Erica Depalo's career was probably being named Teacher of the Year in 2011. The low? Probably being charged with sexual assault for having sex with one of her students.

Depalo was charged on Friday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. The unidentified male was one of her honors English students. But he wasn't receiving extra credit for the time he spent with her outside of class.

Authorities say the two had been having a relationship from mid-June until late August, reports Fox News.

A pair of golfers apparently teed off the wrong man after an errant golf ball triggered a shooting, police say.

The stray golf ball smashed the window of a home overlooking the Lakeridge Golf Course in Reno, Nev., Reuters reports. In retaliation, the home's owner grabbed a shotgun and confronted the golfers.

Then he opened fire.

Summer is unofficially over, but those legally weird stories just keep on coming.

We realize you may have taken a much-needed break over the past few months. Strange and stupid criminals, however, apparently didn't.

So in case you missed some of these gems, here's our list of the Top 10 strangest stories to grace our Legally Weird blog so far this summer:

Man Attacked Teen, then 'Tebowed' Before He Left

A man allegedly "Tebowed" following an assault on a youth in Shenango Township, Pennsylvania.

Tim Tebow and Tebowing has clearly jumped the shark as now even petty criminals are striking the pose following their crimes.

The pose had been oft-copied/mocked by other athletes (just YouTube it). And the Pennsylvania perp allegedly struck the pose after he struck a teen off a riding lawn mower, reports The Smoking Gun.

Ben & Jerry's Sues Porn Makers for Bad Taste

Ben & Jerry's isn't interested in partnering with porn makers so they've filed suit against Rodax Distributors and Caballero Video for trademark infringement.

The culprits? "Boston Cream Thigh," "Peanut Butter D-Cup," and the whole Ben & Cherry's line of x-rated videos.

The ice cream makers weren't too amused by the video titles or the packaging display that they claim infringes on their easy-to-identify ice cream labels. But just because it is similar doesn't mean it's infringement.

Fireworks Fraternity's $10M Lawsuit Against Miami Univ. Fizzles

Anyone and everyone can bring a lawsuit. Just ask the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, the "fireworks fraternity" at Miami University in Ohio that had the gall to sue the university for $10 million after it was shut down following a slew of explosive criminal allegations.

Two weeks ago, the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity was allegedly involved in an epic fireworks fight with a rival fraternity. As if this wasn't bad enough, after cops came a-knocking, the police found not only a cache of fireworks, but also a cache of illegal drugs and related paraphernalia, reports the Dayton Daily News.

As a result, Miami University shut the fireworks fraternity down, forcing the frat members to live in campus housing.

Man Who Skinned Cat, Wore Tail Gets 2 Years in Jail

A homeless drifter in Arizona was sentenced to two years in jail for skinning a cat and wearing the cat's innards around his neck.

Twenty-five-year-old Russell Christopher Hofstad said he had nowhere to go and had nothing to eat following his release from jail. So the homeless man broke into a warehouse and stabbed a poor cat with a stick.

Hofstad skinned and gutted the cat and wore the cat's tail and intestines around his neck on a rope, reports Reuters. Not one to waste cat parts, Hofstad kept the remainder of the cat remains inside a cooler and said that he planned to stuff the animal and save the skeleton "for a decoration for a party."