WTF Fun Fact 12711 – A Ram Charged With Murder

A sheep – a ram, to be exact – killed a woman in South Sudan by headbutting her in the chest. There aren’t many more specific details, but we’d rather not have them anyway.

People have been killed this way before. In fact, a 73-year-old U.S. woman was killed in Bolton, MA after being rammed while volunteering at a livestock farm in 2021. She was caring for the sheep alone in a pen when the animal repeatedly rammed her.

But the incident in South Sudan also made headlines because we’re not used to seeing other systems of punishment. In this case, the ram itself has been sentenced to three years in jail. Since it sounds like the animal was in human captivity, it’s unclear what that means.

According to LADbible, which published the story and cited multiple local sources:

The ram was taken into police custody in South Sudan earlier this month after it attacked Adhieu Chaping, 45. She later died as a result of her injuries.” And, according to police, “The ram attacked by hitting her ribs and the old woman died immediately. So this is what happened in Rumbek East in a place called Akuel Yol.

LADbible quoted Major Elijah Mabor telling a local radio station:

Our role as police is to provide safety and separate fights. The ram was apprehended and currently under custody at a Police Station of Maleng Agok Payam...The owner is innocent and the ram is the one who perpetrated the crime so it deserves to be arrested then later on the case shall be forwarded to customary court where the case can be handled amicably.”

We’re not sure what it’s like to arrest an angry ram, but it sounds like a dangerous job.

The next step is to take the animal to a military camp in Aduel County headquarters in Sudan’s Lakes State for its prison sentence.

As the official said, the owner of the ram, Duony Manyang Dhal, will not be charged with a crime, but a local court determined a just punishment would be to give five of his cows to the victim’s family (who are his neighbors) as compensation.

Apparently, when the ram is released from detention, it will also be given to the neighbors.

It appears that this may be a photo of the ram (however, the news source called the 45-year-old victim an “old woman,” so we’re not sure we trust anything else after that):

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Sheep Sentenced To Three Years In Jail After Being Convicted Of Killing A Woman” — LADbible

WTF Fun Fact 12560 – The First Fingerprint Conviction

In 1910, Clarence Hiller confronted an intruder in his home, tackling him as both men fell down the stairs. Hiller was then shot, and the suspect ran away.

Paroled 6 weeks prior, Thomas Jennings was convicted of the crime. He was stopped by police when they saw he was wearing a bloody coat. But that wasn’t what got him convicted.

While investigating the scene of the break-in, police noticed that the intruder had grabbed a freshly-painted railing while boosting himself into the Hiller family’s window. They cut off the piece of the railing as evidence and presented it in court, comparing it to Jennings’ fingerprint.

Criminal justice scholars have proved that the way we use fingerprint evidence is not always in the best interests of justice, nor are fingerprints always accurately interpreted. In fact, our fingerprints even change over the course of our lifetimes, so an old fingerprint may rule out an actual criminal caught decades later.

But in 1910, this type of evidence was a first for a criminal case and the jury needed to be convinced that each person’s fingerprints are unique. Unfortunately for Jennings, that proof came from his defense attorney.

W.G Anderson rightly questioned the use of such poorly-understood evidence to convict a person, but it was his own fingerprint that would convince the jury of his client’s guilt.

Anderson challenged the forensic experts to lift his fingerprint from a piece of paper. They did. But his big plan was to solicit fingerprints from the general public to show just how shoddy the science of fingerprinting was. Alas, we do all have unique fingerprints and while there are often problems in our interpretations, this little experiment did nothing but convince the jury that fingerprint evidence was solid.

Of all the fingerprints collected, none looked like Anderson’s. The jury voted unanimously to convict Jennings, who was sentenced to hang.

In their coverage, The Decatur Herald noted that “the murderer of Hiller wrote his signature when he rested his hand upon the freshly painted railing at the Hiller home.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “The First Criminal Trial That Used Fingerprints as Evidence” — Smithsonian Magazine