Voodoo home economics

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Prosecutors in Greenbelt, Md., finally have indicted Josephine Gray, 55, for her role in the serial murders of her two husbands (in 1974 and 1990) and a boyfriend-cousin (1996), cases that have long been stymied by the resolute refusal of her kinfolk to testify against her. Gray's relatives feared that she would use voodoo on them. One relative of the eventual second victim said Gray could control the man whenever he ate Gray's home cooking but that he returned to "his old self" when he ate elsewhere. Other relatives reported that a spell once cast by Gray caused the eventual first victim to scratch his face to shreds. Ultimately, Gray was indicted not for the murders but for collecting on the men's life-insurance policies.

Wait-and-see attitude

On Jan. 1, John Guth, 32, and Jeff Tweiten, 24, set up outside the Cinerama theater in Seattle, where they announced their intention to await the public sale of tickets for "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones," scheduled for release May 16. Tweiten said he was actually engaged in an art project on "waiting for something" and is keeping a detailed log of his experiences. "I'm becoming very aware just how long an hour is," he said, and "what happens in an hour." The film's distributors have not even confirmed that the movie will be shown at the Cinerama.

Don't blow your putt

Thailand's minister of tourism said a 27-hole golf course will be built at the juncture of his country, Laos and Cambodia, with nine holes in each nation. The minister believes that golfers will fly in from all over the world for the challenge. The biggest challenge may come from the fact that the scenic territory is littered with countless Khmer Rouge land mines. ... Around the globe in Colombia, leaders of the notorious right-wing death squad of the United Self-Defense Forces sent e-mail Christmas cards this past season to their soldiers across the countryside; the cards wished squad members "peace."

All bottled up

A judge acquitted Yvonne Lancaster of drunk-driving charges in October, even though she had been found passed out in her car in Warrington, England, with an empty vodka bottle at her feet. She also had a blood-alcohol reading four times the legal limit. Because she was barely conscious and had to be propped up at the station for her breath test, the police declined to read her her rights. That failure, the judge said, invalidated the arrest.

Leash-law violation

New York City defense lawyer Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg zealously claimed on behalf of her client in a December murder-rape-robbery trial that the 81-year-old victim had begged Ð and paid $20 Ð for kinky sex with her client, a 37-year-old crackhead with a long rap sheet. The jury convicted Elbert Marcel Mitchell on DNA evidence but not before his lawyer had insinuated in argument and questioning that the victim, a kindly Harlem socialite, had consented to the swollen cheek, the split lip and the black eye she had sustained. Van Leer-Greenberg also suggested that the dog leash Mitchell strangled the woman with was around her neck as part of an erotic game.

A Kodiac moment

Back in June 1997, News of the Weird reported on Troy Hurtubise, a scrap-metal dealer from North Bay, Ontario, who had become so obsessed with grizzly bears that he had embarked on a $100,000 project to build a suit out of rubber, steel and titanium that would enable him safely to wrestle a grizzly. Although his project forced him into bankruptcy, he finally was able to test his suit last month at a special facility in British Columbia. Hurtubise hung his long-awaited Ursus Mark VI suit in a cage, where it was promptly ripped up by a 1,200-pound Kodiak bear. That forced Hurtubise to resort to plan B, in which he donned a second suit and went face-to-face for 10 minutes not with the Kodiak but with a small, female grizzly. He pledged to improve the suit and go at it with a Kodiak later this year.

Cut to the quick

An environmental official in Kagoshima, Japan, was arrested for threatening to knife a bar owner if he didn't start separating his garbage according to the country's strict trash laws. ... Legal fees had risen to about $30,000 as of November in the Golden, Colo., battle between ex-lovers David Rosenthal and Barbara Newman over whether their 2-year-old child is named "Kyleigh Rosenthal-Newman" or "Kyleigh Rosenthal Newman."... The District of Columbia Department of Corrections admitted that it had detained a deaf-mute man (who also has a mental illness) for 669 days on a minor misdemeanor charge because it had lost his file. The charges were eventually dropped, and the director called the situation "kind of unbelievable."

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