xxxNews Of The Weirdxxx
Bizarre but true stories about real people collected by syndicated columnist Chuck Shepherd.
In November, Michael Patrick Mikitka, 35, was arrested and charged as the man who had held up six banks in one week in the Pittsburgh area, including one in which he had written the holdup note on a check issued to him when he opened his account. In the final robbery, at the PNC Bank in Wilkinsburg, he was on his way out the door when the security guard said that the teller needed to see him again, and as he walked back in, the doors locked, and the guard grabbed him. Pending trial, Mikitka was sent to drug rehabilitation, but he left the facility on Dec. 22 and was re-arrested the same day when he allegedly robbed the same National City bank that he had robbed twice during his November spree.
When Dan White killed San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978, but argued successfully that he had diminished capacity because of a depression that was exemplified by eating too much junk food, the “Twinkie Defense” was born. In December 2003, U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow of South Dakota was convicted of manslaughter for causing a traffic fatality, despite a defense that he had diminished capacity due to low blood sugar from his diabetes. Presumably, then (though Janklow did not specifically say so), the accident, the death, and his conviction would never have happened if only he had eaten some Twinkies.
Alternate Universe In November, a jury in Montgomery, Ala., ordered Exxon Mobil to pay the state $11.8 billion in punitive damages based on its conclusion that the company, having allegedly inflated its expenses, underpaid the state $63.6 million in natural gas royalties (a penalty of more than 18 times the state’s alleged loss). Exxon Mobil said its expenses were legitimate, that it owed the state nothing, and that it would appeal. One juror said afterward that the fact that the Alabama government is in such dire financial straits and needs the money might have influenced his vote (though that was not legally proper).
A 20-year-old woman died in a one-car collision in Bridgewater, Mass., in November; according to police, she lost control of her car while talking on a cell phone and crashed into the Cingular Wireless store on Route 106.
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Copyright © 2001 by Chuck Shepherd
NEWS OF THE WEIRD