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Catch and release



Serial killer Coral Eugene Watts, 52, thought to have been put away for life by a Houston judge in 1982, is now to be released in 2006 because of a drafting error in his plea bargain. Because of a paucity of evidence about the 13 murders to which Watts confessed, he was allowed to plead to "aggravated" attempted murder and be sentenced to 60 years without parole, but the prosecutor neglected to specify any "aggravated"-type weapon; an appeals court ruled that only "aggravated" crimes justify no parole. Consequently, Watts has been amassing "good time" requiring early release.

Poop art

From time to time News of the Weird has reported on the fluctuating value of the late Italian artist Piero Manzoni's personal feces, which he canned in 1961, 30 grams at a time in 90 tins, as art objects (though, over the years, 45 have reportedly exploded). Their price to collectors has varied from about $28,000 for a tin in 1998 to $75,000 in 1993. In June 2002, the Tate Gallery in London excitedly announced it had purchased tin No. 004 for about $38,000. (The price of 30 grams of gold at press time was a little over $300.)

Sexual healing

In May, New York University researchers writing in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that sex-abstaining women and women whose partners wear condoms were more frequently depressed and concluded that hormones in semen may enter the bloodstream and pep women up. Also in May, Concordia University (Montreal) researchers reported that their PT141 drug seems to encourage female rats to solicit sex from males three times as often as they otherwise would and are scheduling human trials.

Taking the rap

Prosecutors in Pottstown, Pa., said in May that they thought that some of rap singer Karim Ali Howard's lyrics might be used against him in his upcoming trial for cocaine trafficking. A sample: "I'm going to sell coke until you call me pope, do dirt until the lord tries to stop me, it's gonna take hundreds of bullets just to drop me."

Touchy subject

Among recent denials of child sex-abuse: In April in New York City, choir official Frank Jones, 51, said he was merely massaging a 13-year-old boy with slippery sports cream and that "my hand slipped" onto a "private area." And New port, R.I., teacher Carl D. Reid, 38, said in May that he had no idea that several female elementary school students of his had crawled under his desk, and that before he knew it, they had put their hands underneath his gym shorts and touched him.

Twist their arms

Eleven alleged members of San Francisco's Big Block street gang claimed in a court filing in June that they have a constitutional right to carry guns, pointing to a declaration last year by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft that changed the law. Previously, the Justice Department had thought that Second Amendment rights applied only to state militias, but Ashcroft declared in May 2001 that the Second Amendment would be regarded as giving fundamental gun-toting rights to individuals. Nonetheless, in July 2002, the federal judge trying the gang declined to dismiss the gun charges.

Fired up

Claudia Huntey, 38, who has suffered from Tourette's Syndrome since age 9, filed a federal lawsuit in Denver in April after she was evicted from Torrey Pines apartment complex because her frequent screams during the night disturbed her neighbors. Huntey, whose most frequent symptom is to yell "Fire!" at the top of her lungs, claimed that since those are "involuntary vocalizations" protected under federal disability law, her neighbors would just have to get used to them.

Sting operation

The Afkhami family of Gaithersburg, Md., filed a civil-rights lawsuit in July against Carnival Cruise lines, which the plaintiffs said unlawfully denied their right to travel from Miami with 160 live bees, in bottles, because two of their adult children on the cruise were practicing alternative medicine involving the bees. The Afkhamis said the rights were denied because of their Iranian nationality.

Flee circus

In Englewood, Ohio, when a car full of suspected thieves crashed after a high-speed police chase, the one person inside who was well enough to flee on foot did, but made it only a short ways before his prosthetic leg fell off.

Another man, on trial in Rochester, N.Y. for fleeing police in his van, allegedly apologized when they caught him, reasoning that he had just bought crack cocaine and wanted to go somewhere to consume it before he went to jail.

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