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Sept. 10, 2008 at 6:00 AM
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Ore. family finds giant lizard in backyard

GRANTS PASS, Ore., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Members of an Oregon family say they were shocked to find a 6-foot Nile Monitor lizard in their yard just feet from where their children were playing.

Ryan Nelson of Grants Pass said he was taking his young children inside for their baths when he saw the 60-pound reptile in his peripheral vision, KTVL-TV of Medford reported Tuesday.

"I heard a noise. I thought it was cats at first. And I looked and it's a -- what I thought was -- an alligator at first," Nelson said.

"It freaked me out. I was just boggled about why it was in my yard and how it got here and how long it's been here because the kids are out here playing all the time."

Nelson said his wife phoned MB Reptiles, which sent Dalton Brown to capture the Nile Monitor. Nelson and Brown said it took several minutes to capture the lizard, which had taken refuge under the family's deck.

A neighbor claimed ownership of the lizard. MB Reptiles said he will be able to take the lizard home if he presents proof of ownership and compensates the pet store for the time it has been in its care.

Politician accused of watermelon theft

EDENTON, N.C., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A man running for the Chowan County Board of Commissioners in North Carolina has been charged with stealing a $3 watermelon from a farmer's field.

Dana Soles is scheduled to appear Sept. 23 in District Court on a felony larceny of ungathered crops charge, which could land him in jail for up to 30 months if he is convicted, the (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.

Soles said he was en route to delivering groceries to the family of a former colleague who had lost his job Aug. 21 when he came across a field of watermelons that he said he heard was due to be tilled. He said he took the watermelon and placed it in his car and admitted to initially denying he had put anything in the vehicle when a deputy stopped to ask if he was having car trouble, Sheriff Dwayne Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Soles eventually admitted to taking the watermelon and was issued a summons Aug. 29.

Soles said the watermelons "were rotting out there" and he "honestly didn't know it was a crime" to remove one of them.

Soles is running on the Republican ticket for District 1, Seat 1 in November's race against Democrat Emmett Winborne.

He said he offered to pay the farmer for the watermelon and he believes his prosecution is politically motivated.

"Had I not been running for office I think things would have been different," he said. "I don't feel I'm the criminal they're making me out to be."

Lawyers asked not to pat police backs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A Virginia Beach, Va., judge said defense lawyers have been asked to halt the practice of patting police officers on the back.

Chief General District Judge Gene Woolard said that while there has been no evidence of impropriety, the back-patting can leave the impression of a "good old boy system" that the court would rather do without, the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press reported Tuesday.

A report in a recent newsletter of the Virginia Beach Bar Association said some judges worry the gesture could appear prejudicial.

Police: Wrong number led to drug arrest

JAMESTOWN, Tenn., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Police in Jamestown, Tenn., said a man and his mother were arrested after they allegedly tried to trade drugs with a uniformed police officer.

Investigators said Joel Beaty, 33, apparently called the wrong number when he phoned police dispatch and addressed the dispatcher, an off-duty police officer, as if he were a drug dealer, WBIR-TV, Knoxville, Tenn., reported Tuesday.

The officer said Beaty seemed to be under the influence of drugs when he requested that the officer come to a parking lot next to his home and sell him morphine in exchange for other drugs.

The dispatch officer said he showed up in uniform to make the trade and Beaty's mother, Joyce, handed her son the drugs he was allegedly planning to trade for the morphine, the broadcaster reported.

Beaty and his mother were both charged with delivery of Schedule III drugs. The 33-year-old was also charged with public intoxication.

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