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The incredibly patient Joseph Shepard Sr., 53, sat quietly in St. Louis-area lockups for more than two years expecting that his lawyer, Michael Kelly, was working for his release on bond, but it turns out neither Kelly nor prosecutors nor the judge was doing anything at all. In fact, Shepard seemed innocently happy when a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter told him in August that he had looked into the case himself and that Shepard would be released soon. Shepard's attitude: "If I just sit here long enough, something's going to happen." Three days later, federal judge Carol Jackson released Shepard and chastised Kelly. (Shepard's drug charges remain.)

After a 14-week trial in 2003 in Durham, N.C., Michael Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife with a fireplace poker and is now serving a life sentence, but his former neighbor, Larry Pollard, is certain that Mrs. Peterson was killed instead by an owl gone bad. Pollard offered voluminous information about owls to buttress his theory, but acknowledged earlier that no feathers had been found at the scene. However, in August, the State Bureau of Investigation disclosed that one "microscopic feather" was on a clump of hair in Mrs. Peterson's hand. Shouted Pollard, "(T)he feather has been found" (although it was likely a household speck of down).

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