Check out our interactive website of the crazy-ass crimes perpetrated in both states, and see how Texas stacks up to Florida.
It's the ultimate showdown: Which state has the crazier criminals, Texas or Florida? Both claim to lead the nation in dumb/horrifying/hilarious perps, but only one can rule.
So we found ten categories, picked Texas's best in each and stacked them up against candidates chosen by our sister paper Miami New Times. Pete Kotz, former editor of True Crime Report, did the judging. Unfortunately, as it turns out.
INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: Texas vs Florida
Florida: Farmville Horror
A 22-year-old Jacksonville mom was so pissed off when her crying three-month-old interrupted Facebook's über-addictive Farmville game that she shook the kid, stopped for a smoke break and then jostled him again. The baby died, the mom got 25 years in the slammer and Farmville continued clogging news feeds with inane updates about cow production.
Texas: Shrooms for Sale!
It's never smart to continue your criminal ways when you are on probation. Dumber still is to advertise those shenanigans on Facebook, but that's just what Juggalo Jason Merksamer did. On his public wall, he admitted to getting drunk as a minor, inquired into the availability of Xanax bars and advertised mushrooms for sale. He is now in the pen.
Ruling: While Jason Merksamer admirably upholds the exalted Juggalo tradition of relentless moronocity — and would probably be fabulous to party with if he agreed to have his face taped shut — he really needs to hike his game if he wants to overcome a mom who murders her baby for interrupting her playdate with cartoon cows. Winner: Florida.
Florida: Cooking and Driving
When Lakeland cops found Clifford Ellison dead in a submerged car, they figured he'd had a routine accident. But then they discovered why the 36-year-old had crashed: A passenger had been cooking meth until, predictably, the volatile chemicals exploded, rocketing shards of glass into Ellis's neck and sending the car into the drink.
Texas: Cookie Ray's Downfall
Backwoods meth freak "Cookie Ray" Anderson concocted a most cunning plan: He would steal a mess of copper wire from a work site and make his getaway on an ATV over the dirt logging trails that led to his home. Unfortunately, he didn't take into account all the heavy rain that had fallen. Cops were able to follow the ATV's trail all the way from the site of the copper theft right to his home, where Cookie Ray was found to be cooking meth.
Ruling: Surely everyone agrees that explosions are a must in any respectable meth crime. But when a guy named Cookie uses a motorized toy to lead police to his combination meth lab/stolen copper stash, he's just reached the first two steps of a White Trash Holy Trinity. Bless you, my son.
Florida: Taco Emergency
A classic dilemma: You're so drunk only a Cheesy Gordita Crunch can save you, but it's so late only Taco Bell's drive-thru is open. Fifty-year-old Terry Kimball solved this problem — and avoided a DUI — by simply walking up. Alas! Those Taco Bell elitists refused to serve the drunken pedestrian. So Kimball called 911 to report the fast food forbiddance, spent 11 minutes abusing the operator and was promptly arrested for his rudeness.
Texas: Drunkaburger: A Texan Rite
Corpus Christi is the home of Whataburger, a fast-food chain that is open all night. Over the course of about five days in March, cops found people passed out behind the wheel in Whataburger drive-thrus no fewer than three times. It's a Texas rite, somewhat protected by case law: A couple of years ago, the Third District of the Texas State Court of Appeals upheld our right to pass out behind the wheel at a Whataburger without fear of arrest, so long as we have the snap to come to before the fuzz shows up. (If you're still snoozin' when the law arrives, that's probable cause for DWI, and you're on your own.)
Ruling: While his colleagues in Texas selfishly pass out, Terry Kimbell is taking it to the man. He's fighting Taco Bell's naked discrimination against hammered guys whose only wish is to exercise their inalienable right to eat shitty food in the small hours of the morning. Without patriots like Kimball, this country would be little more than France Jr.
Florida: Five-Fingered ATM
All John Robin Whittle wanted was another beer. Problem: He had no more cash. Solution: Whittle walked around the corner, robbed a Wells Fargo, then sauntered back into the Hayloft Bar for another round. Cops hauled him off the bar stool and to the slammer ten minutes later.
Texas: How to Convict Yourself of DWI in Seven Words or Less
Things not to say to a highway patrolman after you have drunkenly rammed your car into a life-flight chopper that had landed on the scene of an earlier DWI accident: "Why was the helicopter flying so low?"
Ruling: John Whittle deserves applause for the innovation he brings to replenishing his Keystone Light fund. But it's not particularly fresh. It's just called Kansas on a Tuesday. What is fresh is hammered goobers on a lonesome Texas highway ramming into medevac choppers in the middle of an accident scene, an inspirational moment for inbreds everywhere. Winner: Texas.
Florida: Dildo Disaster
When Jantavia Taylor and her live-in girlfriend got into a fight, Taylor grabbed the closest weapon at hand: A strap-on dildo. Police arrested the 21-year-old after she'd chased 23-year-old Tamara Cadet around the house and chucked the fake willy so hard cops later found it in a neighbor's yard.
Texas: Head of the Class
Speaking of Whataburger, a cop in a Houston suburb was called out to one to investigate some characters who were behaving oddly. Specifically, one dude was smacking his passed-out buddy around in an effort to wake him up from a pill-induced stupor. Turns out both guys had been given pills by their friend Tina Marie Arie. While the sleeping dude went to the hospital, Arie and the other guy were put in a cop car and pointed toward jail. En route, the handcuffed Arie managed to somehow work the guy's pants down and try to blow him right there in the backseat.
Ruling: Lesbian attacks involving strap-on dildos made this country what it is today — namely, a gold mine for reality TV series. But Tina Marie Arie managed to turn a garden-variety drug pinch into so much more with her back-of-the-squad-car blow job. This is exactly what Mitt Romney's talking about when he speaks of encouraging American enterprise.
Florida: Shootin' at Mowers
Mark Tomas Wach was just livin' the redneck dream when cops showed up: Drunk in the middle of the afternoon, he was firing a gun at his lawn mower. The trouble started when he hit his 18-year-old son's nearby house, then got into a fistfight with the kid, screamed that his mom never paid child support, and eventually pointed the gun at his progeny. He explained it all to police this way: "Fighting is what redneck people do!"
Thanks to Hank Hill, Texas is famous for its love of propane and propane accessories, and one East Texas man did his best to perpetuate the stereotype. Police say he lashed a torpedo-sized propane tank he found in someone's yard to the bumper of his truck, and drove off down the highway, dragging it behind him and showering all around him with sparks. Did we mention the tank was full, and could have exploded at any second?
Ruling: Towing a full propane tank down a highway is a great opener, but the story fails to advance when it includes no mention of explosions, wacky meth bender hijinks or intercourse with farm animals. Florida closer adheres to what we expect from the redneck genre. We're treated to a full selection of idle drunkenness, shot-up lawn mowers, complaints about child support, intra-family wrestling over loaded weaponry, dad pointing a shotgun at his son, plus some homespun white trashian quippery to conclude this lighthearted family drama. Expect it to be a big winner at Sundance this year.
Florida: To Fingerbang a Chihuahua
Do not insert your digit into your roommate's chihuahua. Just don't! If you do, don't drunkenly pass out without pants next to the whimpering animal. Tomas Bautista learned none of these lessons, and ended up serving almost a year in jail. For fingerbanging a three-year-old mix named Mimi.
Texas: Just Horsing Around...
After finding evidence of barnyard shenanigans, a South Texas rancher set up a surveillance camera to watch over her mares. Not long after, she captured footage of Cirilo Castillo coming in and lashing one of these animals to a fence, hobbling its back legs (to protect his nuts from flying hooves) and bonking it. After she took the video to police, another rancher came forth saying Castillo had been shagging his mares, too.
Ruling: Reading either story may cause retinal damage. But passing out in your yard without your pants after digitally penetrating a dog that very likely owns a sweater is just way too depraved. This is probably a good time to break so everyone can take a shower. We'll reconvene in 30 minutes.
Florida: How to Make Crack
Fashion shifts so quickly these days that it's tough to decide what's appropriate for a drug-trafficking court date. Suit and tie? Nice polo? How about a sweatshirt printed with explicit, graphic instructions on how to cook crack cocaine? In hindsight, a Broward man's choice of threads was probably an all-seasons faux pas.
Texas: Defendant, Please Enter your Pee
Corey Webb's trial already wasn't going well when the judge called for a break in the proceedings. Things got even worse when the young man got up from the defense table, walked across the courtroom and pissed in a trash can. He wound up getting 60 years for the original offense, and the judge made sure to call for a bathroom break during his sentencing.
Ruling: Perhaps our 17-year-old hero was making a metaphorical statement on the fallibility of justice. Perhaps he just really, really had to pee, and was unaware of the advent of indoor restrooms. Either way, we salute yet another distinguished product of the vaunted Texas educational system!
Florida: A Christmas Miracle
Tiny baby Jesus commanded us to remember his birth with elaborate inflatable Santas on our lawns — but all that Xmas swag ain't cheap! So two Sweetwater women celebrated the season by stealing $500 of decorations from a neighbor. Their scheme failed, though, because they lived just a block away, and the victim called the cops when she spotted her decorations on their lawn. Jesus wept.
Texas: Gimme Back My Fines, Bitch
Lavelle Hopkins is no Omar Little. You can tell because this is a man who has no code to speak of, a guy who makes no distinctions between those in the game and those who are not. How else can you explain why he would stick up a small-town public library for a jar of donations containing less than $100?
Ruling: Robbing a library is so passé it's no longer even taught at the freshmen level of most trade schools. (What, you couldn't even find a dry cleaner?) Compare this to the theft of Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and some "hugging penguins," and there's little doubt which criminal has a better chance of someday being featured on an episode of Law & Order: Various Holiday Decorations Unit. Winner: Florida.
Florida: Fecal Bandits
Two liquored-up St. Petersburg teens decided to enjoy the fading days of August the only way they knew how: By sneaking into the fanciest hotel in town, diving into the pool and spreading their own shit like Kandinsky. The kids were quickly arrested lounging in the hot tub; surveillance footage showed them flinging feces all over the pool and smearing a giant X on the bottom. They were charged with felony burglary.
Texas: Shitstain Chapel
Gregory Chambers had a beef with the Wendy's on Galveston's Seawall, so he decided he would get even by smearing its windows and doors with poop again and again and again. Not just any old feces would do, this was always his own poop. So often did he smear the joint in shit, the morning shift finally persuaded the cops to stake the place out. They didn't have to wait long — they nabbed Chambers on their very first night on the job, and discovered that he was a part-time employee whose sister was the manager.
Ruling: Any act of defecation against something called the "Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club" is surely a blow against one of the great enemies of America: businesspeople who give their joints really pretentious names. But Gregory Chambers one-ups our teen assailants by busting out some fecal artistry on his place of employ, Wendy's. If this were Brooklyn, not Galveston, he'd be celebrated as one of the emerging abstract philosophers of our time.
Florida: Bachelorette Night
Bad idea: Hitting up a bar while on duty as a Miami Beach cop to drink and dance at a bachelorette party. Worse idea: Mugging for photos with the coeds. Very worst idea: Drunkenly taking bachelorette on an early-morning ATV beach ride, then running over and nearly killing tourists on the sand.
Texas: China Sends Cops to HPD, HPD Sends Chinese to Hospital
It was supposed to be a special treat for the visiting Chinese dignitaries: a ride-along with Houston's finest as they conducted stuntman-style high-speed maneuvers in their patrol cars. It turned into a nightmare and something of a minor international incident when at least two of the cars collided, sending five dignitaries and two cops to a nearby hospital.
Ruling: You say you have a job that involves scamming overtime, getting hammered at bachelorette parties, then recklessly ramming tourists with your ATV on the beach? As a public service, this story really should have included an employment application. Winner: Florida.
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Florida 6, Texas 5.
Lost by a nose.
We'll be back next year for a rematch.