Here are some updates on major cases that I’ve been following for you, as well as a couple of shocking new stories:

Casey Anthony, whose murder trial is set to begin in Florida in less than three weeks, reportedly will not call mental health experts as witnesses.  She’s not raising an insanity defense, but her defense team still had wanted to call two shrinks to testify about her mental status around the time of her little daughter Caylee’s disappearance.  Prosecutors will contend that Anthony’s seemingly-carefree partying contradicts her contention that she was distraught and diligently searching for her missing child.  The shrinks apparently would’ve testified that Anthony’s behavior didn’t reflect what was going on in her head.  After the prosecution objected on the grounds that the experts had no basis for such testimony other than Anthony’s self-report, the defense withdrew them from the witness list.

Remember the woman who falsely accused several players on the Duke University lacrosse team of raping her a few years back?  And remember a few weeks ago when I updated you on her, reporting that she had been charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a guy?  Well, make that murder.  The guy died.  Looks like she’s headed right where she should’ve been since making her false allegations.  I’ve said it over and over, but it bears repeating — we don’t do enough in this country to punish people who falsely accuse others.  When I’m in charge, false accusers will get the same punishment as the falsely-accused would’ve gotten had they actually been guilty.  That would be justice.  At least now (just as I think is the case with Ron and Misty Cummings — the imprisoned, drug-trafficking father and stepmother of vanished Florida toddler Haleigh Cummings — and O.J. Simpson), this woman will probably end up in the right place, just a little late and for a different reason.

And there’s news in the case of missing Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo, but it isn’t good.  Law enforcement is searching bodies of water near the alleged abduction site.  Water searches are almost always bad news for the obvious reason — they indicate that the cops believe there’s a reasonable chance the missing person is underwater, i.e. deceased.

Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen was unsuccessful in his bid for custody of his twin toddler boys, who will remain in the custody of their mother for the time being.  As a child-custody expert, I can tell you that these things, more often than not, are “lose-lose” situations for the kids, and it looks like this case is no exception.  While Sheen’s obviously a train wreck, there are allegations of recent drug abuse and “rehab” surrounding the little boys’ mother as well.  If she’s a train wreck, too, it would be the rule rather than the exception.  Train wrecks seem to have a way of finding one another in life.  Sadly these poor kids have every material advantage, and yet they very well may lack what’s far more valuable in a child’s life — loving, self-sacrificing, competent parents.

Now here are the shocking new stories from the first half of this week:

First, after apparently watching pornographic films in a San Francisco sex shop, a man reportedly came running out of the shop…on fire.  That’s right, in flames.  A nearby ambulance crew saw him, extinguished the fire, and took him to a local hospital, where he’s receiving treatment for extensive and severe burns.  Believe it or not, some extremely religious folks have proclaimed that the man actually burst into flames, combusted spontaneously, because of his sinful behavior.  Now, I’m certainly no proponent of porn, but I doubt that.  It sounds more like a case of self-immolation, setting fire to oneself.  This particular form of suicide/attempted-suicide tends to be associated with profound shame and/or a desire to die in a spectacular way, and while it’s more common in other parts of the world, most notably the Middle East (we saw it in the uprising that led to the recent regime change in Tunisia), it’s not unheard of in the U.S.  Given the context of the San Francisco incident, I think it’s possible that shame associated with sexual compulsions may have played a role, but it’s also possible that the guy was indulging some kind of a burn fetish and things went extremely but accidentally wrong.  Hopefully, if he lives, he’ll tell us and perhaps thereby help us to better understand the self-immolation phenomenon.

And in Texas, a six-year-old boy brought a loaded handgun to school and dropped it, causing an apparently-accidental discharge that injured the boy and two other children.  At least two of the children’s injuries apparently were from flying shrapnel, and none were life-threatening.  So how did a six-year-old get his hands on a gun and what was he doing with it at school?  We don’t know yet, so stay tuned, but I can tell you for sure that there’s an adult involved who needs to be charged, at the very least, with child endangerment.


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