Police: Drunk Dad Let 7-Year-Old Drive

N E W P O R T R I C H E Y, Fla. — Barry Colbert had had a few too many drinks, police say, so he decided to let his son drive. Unfortunately, the boy is 7 years old.

The child sailed the manual-transmission 1988 Mercury Tracer through a stop sign and rear-ended another vehicle, police said. The car also did not have its lights on.

"The father was in the front seat with the child," said Pasco County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jon Powers. "He apparently allowed the child to occasionally drive the vehicle as a reward for being good."

"Some kids play with dolls," Colbert told the St. Petersburg Times. "My kid wants to drive."

When sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene they found Colbert behind the wheel, trying to back away from the accident, Powers said. They smelled alcohol on his breath and performed field sobriety tests on him, which he failed, he added.

Colbert won't be the only one facing charges stemming from the incident, which occurred last Friday night.

"We intend to charge the 7-year-old for driving without a license, driving without headlights and running a stop sign," Powers said.

The father faces charges of driving with a suspended license, driving while intoxicated, and allowing an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.

"It was a terrible decision for a couple of reasons," Powers said. "A, it's illegal. B, it's extremely dangerous."

Colbert, however, defended his actions.

"I'm not irresponsible," the 38-year-old father told the Times. "I just had a few beers."

He said the his son's go-cart had been stolen recently, and that he had let the boy drive various vehicles on a Kentucky farm without any problems.

"When you're in rural Kentucky, it's all farm," Colbert said. "There's no police out there to tell you that you can't do this and you can't do that."

Pants on Fire T A L L A H A S S E E, Fla. — Police say they didn't need a smoking gun to catch 30-year-old Carl Franklin. They used his smoking pants instead.

Franklin's slacks caught fire on Sunday night as he was fleeing police. He had apparently been smoking a Newport cigarette, which he put in his pocket as he ran, police said.

The still-burning cigarette ignited the man's pants, sending plumes of smoke back toward Tallahassee Police Officer Seth Stoughton, who was chasing him.

"We prepare for a lot of stuff, but I'd never expected to see the man's pants on fire," Stoughton told the Tallahassee Democrat. "His pocket was outlined in red, and it was clearly smoldering."

Stoughton had spotted Franklin standing by a fence, and believed the man was preparing to urinate. When he approached, Franklin took off running, said Officer Scott Hunt, a department spokesman.

Franklin continued to run, despite the flames, officials said. Eventually his pants fell to his ankles and he tumbled over. Stoughton tackled him and smothered the flames, even as Franklin punched and kicked him and tried to get away, the officer said.

Police say Franklin appeared to be intoxicated and smelled strongly of alcohol. He was charged with resisting arrest.

Shop Till You're Drop-Kicked

L O W E L L, Mass. — Police are calling it "check-out line rage."

According to authorities, 38-year-old Karen Morgan began shouting at the woman in front of her while waiting in the "12 items or less" line at the Market Basket grocery store last Sunday morning. She then allegedly attacked the woman outside.

"I didn't think I had that much there," the woman told the Lowell Sun. "[Morgan] said something about, 'People don't know how to count.'"

"And I said to her, "Do you have a problem with this?' and she said, 'Yes I do, you [expletive].'"

"I think she was literally one item over," said Police Capt. William Taylor of the 58-year-old victim, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

The woman paid for her items and then was allegedly confronted again by Morgan. After she left the store to walk home, a red Pontiac Grand Am suddenly pulled up behind her and Morgan jumped out of the passenger seat pulled the woman's hair from behind, punched her, and hit her with her knee, police said.

Once the woman was on the ground, Morgan allegedly kicked her repeatedly and rammed her head against the ground. She was bruised but did not appear to have suffered serious injury.

The woman gave police the license plate number of the Grand Am, which led authorities to Morgan. They found her hiding in a closet at the address of the car's owner, Taylor said.

"The suspect in this case has a long criminal history," Taylor said.

Morgan is currently a fugitive, however. After being charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (for allegedly bashing the woman's head against the ground), she was released and then failed to appear at her court hearing on Monday.

"I'm sure people say stuff to you in the supermarket all the time and you walk out and forget it," said the victim. This time, however, "[Morgan] got snippy and I got a little snippy back to her."

"It definitely is unusual," admitted Taylor. "To my memory I've never seen an occasion where two people — especially women — engaged in a physical confrontation in a checkout line"

Crime Blotter, a weekly feature of ABCNEWS.com, is compiled by Oliver Libaw.