Stranger than fiction 

Curses, foiled again

A woman in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., reported hearing a man outside her bedroom window telling someone on a cell phone, "I'm about to commit a crime." She awoke her boyfriend, who said he observed the intruder sit down on a nearby deck and continue his call. Later, he heard a glass door breaking. An Okaloosa County sheriff's deputy who responded followed a trail of blood from the glass door to a nearby intersection, where he found Kevin Wayne Weathersby, 30, sitting on a curb bleeding. (Northwest Florida Daily News)

A worker counting the night's take at a Burger King in Pine Bluff, Ark., told police a man approached with a gun, threatened to kill her and demanded the cash. When he set the gun down so he could put the money in a bag, the worker grabbed it, shot the robber during a struggle, then put him in a headlock and called police, who arrested Jason Robinson, 22. (Pine Bluff Commercial)


An Iowa man was telling a 911 dispatcher that a stranger punched him for no reason at a pedestrian mall in Iowa City when he interrupted himself to tell the dispatcher that a different man had just walked up and punched him. Police said the second man was a friend of the original assailant. (Cedar Rapids' KCRG-TV News)

Defenders of faith

Authorities said Timothy Neal, 44, and his twin 18-year-old sons beat up another man during a drunken brawl at a bonfire in Madison County, Mo., according to sheriff's Capt. Brad Wells, who explained, "The victim had been talking about religion and demons when the other three became upset and started whipping up on him." Wells added he didn't know what specific religious issue started the argument but that the demon talk prompted the beating. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Seeking pigeons

NBC launched a campaign to enlist social-media users to promote its shows. "A recommendation from a friend is infinitely more powerful than any message we can put out through conventional marketing channels," said Adam Stotsky, president of NBC Entertainment Marketing. Participants in the network's "Fan It" initiative sign up on NBC's website and then log in to their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or MyNBC accounts to earn points for chatting about series and directing friends to NBC-related links. They can redeem points for sneak previews of NBC shows, NBC merchandise and a chance to win attendance to the finale of The Biggest Loser or a prop from The Office. (Associated Press)

Guns and ... love?

Justin Paul Goldstone, 21, admitted killing his girlfriend with a sawed-off shotgun, which he pointed at her with his finger on the trigger while she took his picture. Goldstone said he believed his finger was outside the trigger guard and not resting on the trigger. "I'm satisfied that you didn't use the gun deliberately, but you did know the gun was loaded," New Zealand Justice Forrest Miller said when sentencing Goldstone in the High Court at Auckland to three years and four months in jail. (New Zealand Press Association)

Anita Smithey, 41, admitted fatally shooting her estranged husband while they had sex at her home in Oviedo, Fla. She said Robert Cline III, 41, was being too rough, but when she told him to take it easy, he didn't. She reached for a .38-caliber handgun on the nightstand, pointed it at his chest and warned him again, but he only laughed and leaned toward her. She said the gun fired accidentally, but he still didn't get off her, so she fired twice more, wounding him again. According to Smithey's arrest report, when Cline finally rolled off the bed onto the floor, she got a knife and stabbed herself in the belly to make it look like she had acted in self-defense. Smithey added that even though she and Cline had been separated for three months, they still had sex every Monday. (Orlando Sentinel)

Litigation nation

After Lauren Rosenberg was hit by a car while trying to cross a four-lane highway in Park City, Utah, at night, she sued Google Inc., claiming its online directions were "not reasonably safe for pedestrians." Although social networks, websites and cable-news networks blasted Rosenberg for ignoring her own safety to blindly follow online directions, her lawyer, Allen Young, insisted that Google Maps "created a trap with walking instructions that people rely on." Google official Elaine Filadelfo pointed out that every software version of Google Maps warns that walking routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths. (Associated Press)

Size matters

After high school students and college-age adults complained that the 40 million condoms the District of Columbia distributes free each year are poor quality and too small, the city began offering Trojan condoms, including the company's super-size Magnum variety. Durex condoms are still available, but health officials acknowledged that, although both brands are equally effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, Trojan condoms have greater appeal because of the company's marketing strategy, which includes packaging Magnums in a shiny, gold wrapper that HIV/AIDS Administration representative Michael Kharfen noted "has a little bit of the bling quality." (The Washington Post)

Spit happens

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that 51 city bus drivers took an average of two paid months off last year to recover from being spat upon by upset riders. The drivers' union classifies the indignity as an assault, entitling spitting victims to paid leave. One driver needed 191 days to recover. (Associated Press)

Stop the presses!

The world's largest chocolate maker declared that its new formula could fight wrinkles and slow the aging process. Conceding that chocolate "is probably at the bottom of the list when you think about making food healthier," Barry Callebaut Chief Innovation Officer Hans Vriens said the Swiss company's studies showed that a daily dose of 0.75 ounce of its specially developed chocolate, fortified with antioxidants and flavanols preserved during the manufacturing process, boosts skin elasticity and improves hydration. (Reuters)

Job losses

Brenna Marie Reilly, 29, pleaded guilty to impersonating an FBI agent and duping two neighbors in Arlington, Va., to work as her assistants. After she told the neighbors she was the FBI's director of forensics, she assigned them to write condolence letters to family members of slain agents. The assistants were never paid because the jobs weren't real. Prosecutors said they still don't know why Reilly conducted the hoax. (Associated Press)


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