Never give a klutz a gun: People who accidentally shot themselves recently: Anthony McCoy, 20, Edwardsville, Pa. (while he was playing with a gun, said police, it fired, nicking his scrotum, July). Maceo Price, 32, a bodyguard for singer R. Kelly, Marietta, Ga. (accidentally shot himself in the leg while removing his gun at a nightclub, September). Randy Robinson, 19, Toronto (fatally shot himself while pocketing his gun as he fled a taxi robbery, December). Thomas Morris Van Dyke, 40, South Buffalo, Pa. (fatally shot himself in the neck while climbing into his shoddily made hunter's tree stand, December). And police officers in Collinsville, Ill. (December), and Hopatcong Borough, N.J. (November) (the Collinsville officer shot his foot during a drug raid, and the New Jersey officer shot his leg during his annual firearms qualifying test).
Can't possibly be true: Junior Allen, 63, feels 2004 will be his year. The North Carolina Parole Commission soon will decide whether to grant his application for release, after 25 straight rejections. Allen's only conviction, in 1970, was for stealing a TV set, which today probably would carry a sentence of probation only. Meanwhile, the same commission released Howard Washington on parole in January after 10 years in prison for murder; he committed his crime one week before the state eliminated parole as a possibility for murders such as the one Washington committed.
In December, New Hampshire's state drug abuse and prevention program was turned down for a $17 million grant on the sole ground, said the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, that its application was typed with smaller margins than permitted. The federal agency did not give the state an opportunity to correct the formatting, even though the victims of the rejection were not the grant-writers but drug-addicted patients.
Wanda Hudson, 44, said she was inadvertently padlocked into her 30-by-10-foot locker by a careless employee of the Dauphin Island Parkway storage facility near Mobile, Ala., on Nov. 7, 2001, and did not get out until a neighboring unit renter heard her cries 63 days later. Hudson, who said she survived on canned foods and juice, was found weighing 85 pounds and in a clinical state of "advanced starvation." She sued Parkway for $10 million but in September 2003 was awarded $100,000 by a jury.
Update: News of the Weird reported in 2002 that Armin Meiwes, 41, had been arrested for killing and eating a 42-year-old man in Kassel, Germany, but presented videotaped evidence that the murder was consensual (which would still be a crime in Germany but with a lighter sentence). Prosecutors have since learned that the "international cannibal community" may include hundreds of men who communicate on the Internet, including several who visited Meiwes to discuss becoming his dinner but changed their minds (and were permitted to leave). Among Meiwes' e-mail exchanges (revealed at his trial, which is ongoing), a potential victim wrote of the symbiotic nature of their proposed relationship: "Hey, we seem to have discovered a market niche." Meiwes: "We could solve the problem of overpopulation and famine at a (single) stroke."
2004 CHUCK SHEPHERD