Dateline: Scotland—George Johnstone, 58, told the High Court in Glasgow he firebombed a Lanarkshire house in broad daylight because the Devil told him to—plus, God’s objections had plenty of wiggle room. In testimony last week, Johnstone admitted the arson was the result of a theological debate. “The Devil made me do it,” Johnstone told police officers who responded to the Aug. 23 incident in which he set a woman’s car ablaze and then tossed “three or four” gasoline bombs into her living room. “The Devil told me to do it at 2 a.m. God told me not to,” explained Johnstone. “That’s why I did it during the day.” Johnstone, who obeyed the letter of God’s law if not the intent, pleaded guilty to willfully setting fire to the house and the car at 12:30 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. He was originally charged with attempted murder, but the Crown accepted his plea to the reduced charge. He will be sentenced in April.
Dateline: Canada—A 23-year-old man tried to play hide-and-seek with police but ended up in the hospital with hypothermia after burying himself up to his neck in a snow bank. Police in Stratford began searching for the man after he ditched his pickup truck and fled from officers on foot. The driver and a 20-year-old male passenger abandoned the vehicle and took off across a frozen river near the town Palmerston. A female passenger, 18, remained in the vehicle. Police quickly apprehended the fleeing male passenger, but the driver proved more elusive. He was eventually found, buried neck-deep in a snow drift, by a canine unit. It was unclear how long the man had been hidden under the snow. He was transported to a nearby hospital and treated for hypothermia. Police found a stolen snowmobile in the bed of his truck and a container of methamphetamine inside the cab. All three people in the truck were charged with possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance.
Dateline: Michigan—A 62-year-old man’s attempt to sled his way to glory came to a spectacular end when the homemade rocket he had strapped to his back exploded. Police say the Independence Township resident was hospitalized last Sunday after his rocket-powered backpack blew up during a downhill ride at a party he was hosting. “Apparently, he has this sledding party every year, and he always does outrageous things at it,” Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe told the Detroit Free Press. “But he’s never blown himself up before.” Local news reports said the man’s rocket consisted of gunpowder, match heads and gasoline stuffed into a motorcycle muffler. According to a story in the Oakland Press, the man suffered second-degree burns over 18 percent of his body. He was listed in stable condition at a regional medical center following the incident. Authorities believe alcohol may have played a role. No charges have been filed.
Dateline: California—A now-retired judge has been admonished by a California judicial commission for ordering that an attorney be paid in $10 coupons for women’s apparel. The attorney was involved in a class-action lawsuit against Windsor Fashions Inc. The company was accused of invading customers’ privacy by requesting personal information during credit card transactions. As part of the January 2009 settlement, the company issued $10 merchandise coupons to the plaintiffs. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brett Klein then ordered that the plaintiffs’ class counsel Neil B. Fineman be paid his $125,000 fee in a similar manner. The Commission on Judicial Performance announced last Tuesday that Klein’s judgment was biased and abusive and barred him from holding future judicial office. The three-member commission, which disciplines state judges, said in their decision that Klein “abandoned his role as a neutral arbitrator and gave the appearance of being punitive toward the plaintiffs’ attorney.” Klein, who retired from the bench in November, later rescinded his order.
Dateline: Idaho—An Oregon man has filed suit against Idaho police claiming they destroyed his mystical powers by opening a medicine bag during his drunk driving arrest in August. Craig Clark Show, 49, of Portland claims in his lawsuit that the bag was blessed by a medicine woman and contained magical protection since being sealed in 1995. According to the Bonner County Daily Bee, Show was stopped on U.S. Highway 95 in Granite Hill, Idaho, while riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Police arrested him on suspicion on driving under the influence. A breathalyzer test revealed Show’s blood alcohol level at 0.16. In his Jan. 17 complaint against state police, Show alleges that the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office persecuted his religious beliefs by opening the medicine bag he was wearing. He also says a drug-sniffing dog scratched his Harley. Show is suing for $25,000 damages for the loss of his medicine bag’s protection.