Fill 'er up.


The grassy knoll is the spot where John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy buffs believe a second shooter laid in wait. But the term could also be used to describe the heads of Tharin Gartrell, Nathan Johnson and Shawn Adolf, who were arrested in August, the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention, and charged with threatening to kill Barack Obama because he is black. And yet authorities said the plot was so poorly conceived that the men — whom they called "meth heads" — weren't even charged with conspiracy. It went like this: The three had been doing meth with an underage girl in a southeast Denver hotel, where they mistakenly thought Obama was staying, when they came up with a plot to hide a rifle in a TV camera and sneak into a DNC event. But instead, Gartrell was pulled over the next day by Aurora police, who said they found two rifles with scopes, body armor, walkie-talkies, wigs, a cell phone and meth-making equipment inside his truck. In December, Johnson pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person; cases against the other two men are pending.


Doug Bruce's mercifully short legislative career was a real kick. The cranky Colorado Springs anti-tax crusader and author of Colorado's TABOR amendment was selected in late 2007 to fill the empty House District 15 seat. But Bruce wasn't content to take office like anyone else; instead, he waited an extra five days, despite pleas by his own party to stick to the calendar, so that he'd be eligible to serve an extra term under Colorado's term-limit laws. And even before he was sworn in, he kicked a Rocky Mountain News photographer during a morning prayer on his first day at the Capitol, and as a result became the first Colorado General Assembly member ever to be formally censured. A host of other goofs, gaffes and groaners punctuated his tenure, including his removal from a veterans' affairs committee and a comment he made about "illiterate peasants."

Finally, in August, Bruce got his own kick in the pants, losing his bid for reelection in the Republican primary. Guess he didn't need to worry about getting around term limits.


Where there's smoke, there's fire, and Christina Elizabeth Szele was a hot one. Szele, 35, first came up on Denver's radar in June, when the pilot of a New York-to-San Francisco JetBlue flight had to land the plane at DIA because of chaos on board. It seemed that Szele, of Woodside, New York, had lit up a cigarette in the bathroom and later in her seat, an obvious violation of airline policy and the law. When a flight attendant took the cigarette out of Szele's mouth, she went ballistic, kicking and screaming and causing such a disturbance that a male flight attendant finally handcuffed her with plastic cuffs. She broke out, however, and punched the attendant, shouting racial slurs and threatening to kill him. Szele was arrested, booked and indicted by a federal grand jury in July. And although she was released on bond and had her case transferred to New York, this fall she was arrested again for misdemeanor assault in Queens and tested positive for cocaine. As a result, her case was transferred back to Colorado, where she pleaded guilty and moved into a halfway house. She's slated to be sentenced in February.

But in the meantime, the verdict's in: Don't be an ash on an airplane.

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