THE LEFT-TURN BLINKER WAS ON THE WHOLE WAY
Jacqueline Homa and Gloria Slopec, both 68, were convicted of trying to drive 400 pounds of marijuana across the Mexican border in a rented Lincoln Town Car.
ATTACK OF THE BIRD NERDS
Home building in northwestern Pima County was delayed because of a seven-inch owl. Nine cactus ferruginous pygmy owls are believed to inhabit the entire state, seven in northwest Tucson. The Southwest Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government to stop development on land they believe is "critical" owl habitat.
"Virtually all pygmy owl locations are threatened by development," said Peter Galvin, conservation biologist for Southwest Center.
LOOK, IF YOU'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, JUST SAY IT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD
Members of the Air Force's 97th Bomb Group, which dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945, held a reunion in Tucson. Asked his thoughts as he headed toward his target, navigator Theodore K. "Dutch" Van Kirk, 76, said, "I was determined as hell I was going to do everything we could to kill the bastards."
WRONG: IF YOU READ US TODAY, YOU'LL SWITCH TO TV NEWS TOMORROW
Special Award: To Tucson Citizen publisher Don Hatfield, who graces the afternoon newspaper's aggravating, insipid, and criminally false TV ads, which say, "If you read us today, you'll read us tomorrow."
IF YOU BEAT IT TODAY, YOU'LL BEAT IT TOMORROW
Neal Savage, 48, a former editor of Explorer Newspapers, was arrested on charges of public sexual indecency after witnesses said they saw a man resembling him masturbating in his car in a northwest side shopping center. The car door was open and the man was naked.
COPPER CAPER CATASTROPHE
Masked members of the county sheriff's SWAT team, acting on a warrant from the crack MANTIS drug squad, burst into a northwest-side home to arrest what they believed were dangerous meth heads. But they had the wrong house. Ramon and Margarita Estrada, and their 13-year-old daughter Adriana, were terrorized.
"My dad was yelling, 'They're not policemen!'" said Adriana. "He thought they were robbers or something. I think there were four or five guys on top of him, pointing weapons at his head."
Eastside resident Eric Standifer, 33, stopped the burglary of his neighbor's jeep by heaving a rock at the alleged crook, hitting him "dead in the head."
"I was shocked," said Standifer, an electronic technician. "I didn't think it was going to hit him. I'm pretty physical, but I'm not a pitcher." The stunned man said he thought he'd been shot.
A Tucson man sued the County Sheriff's Department claiming that two deputies punched him out, smashed him with a flashlight, choked and falsely arrested him in the parking lot of a Fry's supermarket on Oracle Road.
Roy James Martinez, a market employee, had just left the Fry's on his break and was trying to get into his car when deputies Craig Eickmeyer and James Strickler, responding to a robbery at a bank inside the Fry's, descended on Martinez.
Billboards in Tucson and Phoenix touting the UA say, "Find Yourself And Other Amazing Discoveries." The UA was identified as the buyer of the billboards a few weeks after they first appeared.
"We were trying to make people focus on the question, 'Where would you find yourself and make amazing discoveries? " said Sharon Kha, spokesman for the UA president's office.
Former UA basketball player Deron Johnson, convicted in 1996 of using pit bulls for illegal dogfighting in a Tucson backyard, was convicted again this year on 20 animal neglect charges involving six pit bulls in his care. The dogs were found illegally staked out at Johnson's home, but he claimed they belonged to someone else.
GEEZ, ROBERT, DID YOU JOIN BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO LEARN MACRAME?
Robert J. Davis sued 117 members of the UA's 1995 Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, claiming he was given whiskey as an underage freshman. He alleges that other frat members encouraged him to uphold the tradition of drinking too much, and when he obliged, he passed out and hit his head.
GOOD SAMARITAN, LOUSY CROOK
After returning home and finding her apartment burglarized and her phone among the stolen items, a woman raced to her neighbor's house to call the cops. While on the phone, she heard the group Nine Inch Nails playing in the room of 19-year-old Anthony LaPlante. The same music had been in her CD player when it was stolen. Police later found numerous items belonging to the woman in LaPlante's house. He was charged with burglary.
THEY HAVE THEIR OWN RV PARK OUT BY THE DESERT MUSEUM
Tohono O'Odham legislators reversed themselves and withdrew approval to build a casino on the ruins of an ancient Hohokam village. Among those who disapproved was a medicine man who said he spoke to Hohokam spirits.
JUST THE FAX, MA'AM
In the first information the FBI had let out on the Amtrak train sabotage that took place 65 miles southwest of Phoenix in October of 1995, the agency accidentally faxed a description of a suspect to the Associated Press.
MORE LIKE A LAYOUT SHOT
Golfer Thomas Bittner was playing the Dell Urich course when he was conked between the eyes by ball hit by Robert Longaker.
"As I was putting my bag onto my shoulder to walk to where I would be hitting from," said Bittner, "I hear 'Fore!' and then the ball hit me right between the eyes, falling out of the sky like a piece of hail. Then I guess my head snapped back and my bag fell off my shoulder and I dropped down to my knees."
"My shot was intended to be a layup shot," explained Longaker.
ROBERT MITCHUM DIED EARLY IN JULY, BUT REAL LIFE CONTINUED TO IMITATE HIS ART
Rebecca Lynn Thornton shot and killed her husband, death row inmate Floyd Bennett Thornton, Jr., as he was working inside the fence at the Arizona State Prison Complex at Florence. Then guards shot her dead.
Before she shot him with a single round to the chest, Floyd ran toward his wife yelling, "I'm sorry it didn't go right! Shoot me, baby! Shoot me!"
City magistrate Alice Milton resigned her post when it was revealed she'd been arrested three times on charges of domestic violence. The charged were dismissed when the alleged victim, a Tucson Fire Department battalion chief, failed to show up in court.
AH, THOSE MISPERCEPTIONS. AMAZING HOW OFTEN THEY LOOK LIKE FLAT-OUT LIES
The PR firm that promotes one of the UA's Mount Graham telescopes promised to discontinue the practice of writing letters and then submitting them to newspapers under someone else's name.
The firm, the Strategic Issues Management Group, got busted when art history senior Jennifer Marshal said she didn't write the pro-telescope letter that appeared in the Arizona Daily Wildcat with her name on it.
"We're a communications firm," said David Steele of Strategic Issues, in defending the practice. "We write things to be published."
But he later agreed with UA VP Michael Cusanovich, who said the letter-writing technique "creates a misperception, so we're not going to do it."
MEMO TO LIVINGOOD: THE UA STARTED PLAYING FOOTBALL IN 1899
Shortly after UA head football coach Dick Tomey was given another year on the job, the Citizen reported that the UA had the lowest football attendance in 19 years. "We need to win some games because we're not an established program," explained Athletic Director Jim Livingood.
MILKDUD HEAD STRIKES AGAIN
Elizabeth A. Anderson sued basketball star Charles Barkley, alleging that he sexually harassed her in the locker room at McKale Center after an NBA pre-season game. "He is not God, he is evil and he intentionally sexually harassed me," she said.
"I must have the greatest butt of all time," Barkley explained.
UA basketball coach Lute Olson urged voters in radio ads to vote in favor of new parks in the county's bond elections. But he quickly hopped a plane for a three-week exhibition tour of Australia--without voting. Records show Olson also failed to vote in the 1984, 1986, 1988, 1992, or 1994 general elections.
As the NCAA tournament approached, UA coach Lute Olson launched his annual broadside against The Arizona Daily Star, accusing the paper of trying to screw up his team's chances:
"I really feel that with the Star, it's a matter of, 'Well, what can we do right now to make things difficult for this team? What can we do at this point to try to screw that team up?' They've done it. But am I surprised? Absolutely not."
In the stadium celebration after winning the NCAA basketball championship, players Michael Bibby and Eugene Edgerson lashed out at critics, telling them to "go to hell."
"They all need to go up to A Mountain and commit suicide," Edgerson later explained.
SO DO WE, CORKY
Tucson Citizen sports columnist and home town cheerleader Corky Simpson jumped to the defense of UA basketball star Miles Simon after the Kansas City Star claimed the athletic department waived academic requirements to allow Simon to keep playing.
"Simon is a news item with skin wrapped around it," wrote Simpson of the cruel and uncaring reporting profession. "Sometimes I wish I'd been a pretzel salter."
Tarone L. James, a Tennessee parolee apparently believing he was about to be arrested for burglary, used his car to ram a Tucson motorcycle cop, shoving the terrified 22-year-veteran about 20 feet to the sidewalk at Craycroft and Golf Links.
"We just kind of locked eyes and he stepped on the gas pedal and there wasn't anything for me to do or any place for me to go," said 52-year-old Richard Hendrickson. "It was take-out-the-cop time."
BALLARD OF THE CAMERA CREEPS
When Tucsonan Kim Ballard announced on a tabloid TV show that she'd had an affair with the father of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old girl whose 1996 murder captured national headlines, Boulder, Colo., detectives contacted the Tucson police and asked their assistance in interviewing the woman.
But as they approached her home, a horde of network TV camera people and crewmen rushed from hiding places to record the encounter. Ballard then snubbed the detectives.
"This was a planned event for tabloid journalists," said TPD officer Eugene Mejia. "It was obvious she had contacted a national network and that the event had been staged for their benefit."
THE THIN BLUE LINE
A former Amphi High football star and UA football recruit was charged with aggravated assault in a series of drive-by dart attacks with a blowgun. About 30 people were struck with darts fired by 19-year-old Shontel Early, a student at Pima Community College. "I'm studying administration of justice," said Early. "Go figure. And I wanted to be a cop, actually."
WHEREFORE ART THOU, MONTY
Lysle Smith was overjoyed to learn that his missing pet python, named Monty, was found in a woman's backyard on the northwest side. "Being without Monty was kind of depressing," said the 50-year-old Smith. "He has his own personality."
In a profile of then-director of the Tucson AIDS Project, Craig Snow, Arizona Daily Star writer M. Scot Skinner wrote:
"Every now and then, Snow would take a patented Snow pause and reach for his gold cigarette case. Does he look like the type to grab a smoke from a crumpled pack of GPC's and fire it up with a smudged Circle K lighter? I don't think so.
"But it would be wrong to mistake his quiet, dignified ways for weakness. Craig Snow is no wimp. Friends and co-workers will tell you that he's even more tough than he is pretty."
Tucson-based Riedel Software Productions announced plans to produce a new CD-ROM game called Postal, "a nonstop, killing action-strategy psycho software thriller." The company said it will be sold under a new label called Running With Scissors.
NO, JUST A REGULAR HOOD
Police recovered almost all of the items stolen in a series of northwest-side burglaries, except a computer. Daniel Moore, one of the two men charged in the crimes, told police, "I guess I'm Robin Hood because I gave the computer away."
VANISHED IN A PUFF OF SMOKE
Congressman Ed Pastor attended a three-day bash at the Phoenician Resort, paid for by the tobacco industry. But when reporters called with questions about the affair, he disappeared from sight, even refusing to confirm he was there.
After a traffic confrontation in normally sleepy Green Valley, a 74-year-old man allegedly attacked another man with a three-foot machete. Hardy Cave, who was charged in the affair, reportedly went after a 53-year-old man after the youngster allegedly kicked Cave several times in the groin.
OH, COME NOW
During National Condom Week at the UA, 21-year-old music education major Ken Adams pulled a piece of beige cloth over his body to become Mr. Condom.
"If someone can laugh at an idiot wearing a giant condom costume, that'll break the ice on a taboo subject," explained Adams.
AND I FOUND A CLARINET JAMMED IN MY EAR
Members of a black high school marching band attacked UA student Samara Whittaker and her fiancée at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans for not moving across the street fast enough.
"It was a feeding frenzy with everyone trying to get a piece of us," said Carey Cramer, Whittaker's betrothed. "They would kick us four or five times and run off laughing. I feel lucky to be alive." Cramer said he had nine lumps on his head, two the size of baseballs, and had been hit about 100 times.
A pair of Czechoslovakian gem dealers lost $62,000 in cash and checks that they put in a paper bag and hid beneath the plastic liner of the waste basket in their Tucson hotel room. The fortune was lost when the maid emptied the basket. She saw the paper bag, but thought it contained a diaper.
During her first month in office, Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson complained that the male supervisors with whom she shared a bathroom were slobs. "The men don't know how to flush," she said.
Promising cooperation, Democrat Dan Eckstrom said to his colleagues, "We aim to please, so you aim, too, please."
MOUTHPIECE WITH A BLOWHOLE?
Prominent Tucson lawyer William "Billy" Walker, who defended members of the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s, was arrested for allegedly trying to buy cocaine at an eastside home. Police say they were videotaping the home when Walker showed up and attempted to buy the drugs.
JUDGE JUDY WOULD WOMP YOU UPSIDE THE HEAD, BOY
Former Pima County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Fleischman could earn $2 million from a contract he helped negotiate between tennis star Andre Agassi and Nike, Inc. Fleischman was forced to quit his judgeship after being sanctioned for giving legal advice to Agassi while a judge.
WHAT A PISSER
The Arizona Department of Health Service's "smelly, puking habit" TV ad campaign to prevent teen smoking featured a Jack Russell terrier with a particular talent. "He can lift his leg on command," said department spokesman Brad Christensen.
Patricia Ann Thomas, a 41-year-old Summerhaven resident, was accused of feeding ice cream to bears. Officials figured something was up when a secret videotape made by Arizona Game & Fish showed the bears' faces covered with a "white, creamy substance" after snack hunting in Thomas' backyard.
A Baskin-Robbins employee told officials that Thomas would often buy 10-12 quarts of ice cream before returning to her mountain cabin.
HOT LEAD, COLD HEART
Dogs and cats picked up by animal control officers in Willcox were regularly shot and drowned because it was cheaper than using drugs to kill them. Town humane officer Guy Acuña claimed that when he asked for the euthanasia drugs he was told by the fire department commander to "get ammunition...and use the .22 caliber."
AND A CHICK-BEAR WAS SITTING ON HIS LAP
The wooden figure of a 1,500-pound bear, missing since 1994 from its home in front of Arizona Cord Wood on East Fort Lowell Road, was recovered with its black-marble eyes gouged out and the digits of one paw missing, along with one ear.
Owner Rick Westfall still doesn't know who swiped "Buda." But shortly after the bear's disappearance, Westfall received an anonymous call saying the bear had been seen at a UA fraternity party wearing a hat, and with a cold beer in one paw.
NOTHING LIKE A FEW BELTS
Senate Minority Whip Pete Rios, 47, whose district includes southeast Arizona, was charged with disorderly conduct for repeatedly refusing the order of a sheriff's deputy to wear his seatbelt. Rios, who helped get the state's seatbelt law passed, admitted that he'd been drinking before the encounter.
UA scientist Patrick Woida and Purdue University psychologist Kathryn N. Black conducted a year-long study which determined that people seeking sexually explicit material accounted for the largest share of traffic on the Internet--and that demand was growing.
"A computer is easily 'turned on' with a switch," the researchers wrote in their paper. "Women aren't. How will men who are successful upon request react to the need to establish a relationship?"
HE THOUGHT HE WAS AUDITIONING FOR "SPEED III."
After abandoning a stolen pickup while being pursued by cops, 33-year-old Kevin Jackson stole a bus from the Sunnyside Unified School District parking facility and plowed through the chain-link fence, destroying more than 200 feet of it. Jackson then led police on a chase as he roared south down the north-bound lanes of Tucson Boulevard and drove several laps in the wrong direction around the Tucson International Airport parking lot before finally crashing the bus into a drainage ditch.
The $80,000 school bus was destroyed.
HONEY, THERE'S A FUSILAGE IN MY SOUP
Residents of a neighborhood near the Tucson airport complained that they were being peppered with smoking plane parts falling from the sky. Pamela Martinez said she found a foot-long piece of an American Airlines plane under a tree in her yard, and the windshield of Frank Bustamante's Chevy pickup was shattered, also by a chunk of an AA plane. Some of the falling metal was so hot it melted into the pavement.
FELON OF THE YEAR
ON SEPTEMBER 3, a federal jury convicted Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III of seven fraud counts. Within days, Symington had stepped down from his executive office, and, free until sentencing, began traveling to points undisclosed. Here are highlights from the Fife's trial:
FIFE SYMINGTON, FISCAL CONSERVATIVE
As Symington's disastrous real estate ventures began to topple around him, he turned to his mother, Martha Symington, to bail him out of his financial fix.
In September 1992, Martha Symington's attorney, Thomas Washburne, told Gov. Deadbeat he couldn't continue to bleed his mother's bank account.
"This is a level of debt that I know you are not happy about, your mother is not happy about, and I am not happy about," Washburne wrote. "Your mother simply cannot continue these advances."
Washburne also provided an insight into Fife's personal fiscal policies:
"A review of the material you recently sent in seems to indicate annual living expenses in the neighborhood $500-600,000 with an annual income for you and Ann, for all sources, of about $300,000."
Washburne told Symington it was time to "take drastic action": "I do not know if you can slash your living expenses in half, but some kind of 'Project Slim' for the family is clearly in order."
FINAL FLINGS AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE
During his fraud trial, Symington took his family on three vacations to Santa Barbara, California, at a cost of more than $10,000 to Arizona taxpayers.
The Associated Press reported Symington used to the state plane to fly to Santa Barbara, home of his in-laws, John and Mary Dell Pritzlaff.
"The trial was a very difficult time for not only the governor but his family,'' said former Symington spokesman Doug Cole. "It's a place that he enjoys and that his wife enjoys and that their children enjoy."
SHE WAS AT LEAST AS LUCID AS SOME ARIZONA LAWMAKERS
Seventy-four-year-old Mary Jane Cotey, was removed from the jury after her fellow jurors complained she was unable to follow the deliberations. (Symington has since appealed his conviction based on an affidavit from Cotey that she would have voted to acquit the former governor on all charges.) After the other jurors complained to Judge Roger Strand, he asked Cotey about the problems, which led to the following exchange:
Cotey: Well, for one thing, I can't agree with the majority all the time, at least temporarily. And I'm still researching and looking for more in the case. And so we've--I nominated the foreman and it was never formally accepted. And then it lost its businesslike quality along the way and he lost his indolent attitude. The man that parked up against the wall like this (indicating) all of a sudden turned to this (indicating), which was all right. It had nothing to do with me. But I found myself backed up against the wall for a vote every time, an objection to my vote on a specific count or an element of the count.
Strand: One thing I would ask you is to not tell us anything about any of your...
Cotey: No, I won't.
Strand: ...about your vote.
Cotey: You are talking about the human.
Strand: We are talking about the procedure, but don't tell us about any issue.
Cotey: That's how it was going. And I seem to be isolated each time with a "yes" or "no." "Well, why?" "Well, can you prove it?" It's not up to me, et cetera. And then a couple of voices in place, I would lose the question over here when I was trying to answer this question over here. And I gave up and whatever I said.
Strand: What, what are the concerns of your fellow jurors? Can you tell us what you think they are with--in other words, what did they--what were they trying to tell us by this message?
Cotey: All I can think of is a settling of the thing. They are talking about with a complete unanimous vote. They don't seem to want to put it off for a while because we've been through it enough, things like that. It's a lot of them have to go back to work. A lot of them have families, things like that.
Strand: Well, if--if a juror has a differing view as to how to decide an issue, do you discuss that freely?
Cotey: Maybe you've got it now. It's sort of when we have, a majority maybe vote one way or the other, then everybody brings in their arguments all at once all around the table without maybe the businesslike manner of identification, recognition, you know, something like that. It's kind of a free-for-all at that point. I hate to say that because everyone seems to be in very pleasant moods and have good attitudes towards each other. Maybe it is the familiarity, I don't know, that we all pop in all of a sudden.
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