News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Kenneth Curtis, age 32, was arrested in November in Hartford, Connecticut; state prosecutors will again attempt to bring him to trial for the 1987 murder of a former girlfriend. Curtis had avoided trial earlier because of mental incompetence -- he sustained a brain injury after shooting himself in the head in a suicide attempt. A judge released him in 1989, saying Curtis had almost no chance of ever regaining his faculties; an appeals court lifted an order that he be retested every year. A television station in New Haven found that Curtis is currently enrolled as a premed student at Southern Connecticut State University. He has earned 48 credits and a 3.3 average; a state agency has given him almost $1000 for tuition.

*In November Paul Z. Singer, head of Singer Financial Corp. in Philadelphia, was sentenced to nine months in prison for a peculiar reaction to what he called business pressures. One night in 1996, an extremely depressed Singer decided to deal with his tension by loading his BMW full of spray paint and hitting the road. Police said he scrawled graffiti on 31 walls, windows, and automobiles.

Least Competent Criminals
*Army military policeman Daniel Christian Bowden, age twenty, was arrested in June at the Fort Belvoir (Virginia) credit union as he attempted to deposit almost $3000 in cash. A teller called police because she recognized him as the man who had robbed the credit union of nearly $5000 two weeks earlier.

*Carlos Manuel Perez, age 21, was jailed in Anniston, Alabama, in October after a series of blunders. He stopped in front of a local government building in a stolen car that had no license plate. He told the first person he saw that he wanted to get a nonphoto identification card because he was not carrying a driver's license. That first person happened to be Sheriff Larry Amerson, in uniform. When pressed for ID, Perez produced a social security card with the name Matthew Nowaczewski -- Perez is a dark-skinned Hispanic. He also produced a birth certificate under that name but with some information erased and rewritten in pen, including his birthplace of "Misssissippi."

The Democratic Process
*One man, two votes: Prosecutors in Madisonville, Tennessee, announced in October they would try newspaper publisher Dan Hicks, Jr., age 76, for voting twice in the 1996 presidential election. Hicks said he took pain pills and drank martinis on election day, fell asleep, awoke to a radio warning that the polls would soon close, and rushed out to vote, completely forgetting that he had voted by early ballot two weeks before. And St. Paul City Council candidate Mark Roosevelt voted twice in the September primary, once based on his current residence in St. Paul and again a couple of hours later based on his old residence in Minneapolis, under his former name Mark Hatcher. "It was total ignorance," he said. "I didn't know you couldn't do it."

Names in the News
*Striking fear in the hearts of rival gangs: Among the six members of the Latin Kings gang in Providence, Rhode Island, who pleaded no contest in October to breaking into an apartment: "Tu-Tu" Vazquez and "Hecky-Heck" Heredia.

*In Washington, D.C., in October, Alexander Alexander walked down the aisle with his daughter Stacy as she married John Roberts Stacey.

-- By Chuck Shepherd