An Oxon Hill couple who tortured a young neighbor and threatened him with a chainsaw and a gun because he cheated them in a marijuana deal was convicted by a federal judge today of kidnaping the youth and holding him against his will.
Judge Frank A. Kaufman convicted Curtis and Vera Hines and declared that they had "thoroughly terrorized, beaten and burned" 18-year-old Samuel Williams Jr. and "dangled and played with him" because they didn't think he would go to the police.
Hines, 36, a sixth-grade teacher at the Friendship Learning Center in Southeast Washington, and his wife, a 34-year-old self-employed bookkeeper, could be sentenced to up to life imprisonment. No date was set for sentencing.
Hines, who described himself as a casual user of marijuana, testified that he was only trying to scare Williams for giving them less than the quarter kilo (8.8 ounces) of marijuana for which he was paid $105.
Both he and Williams told the judge that Williams was tied between two posts in the Hines' basement, menaced with a chainsaw and a .22-caliber pistol and beaten with a belt and a plastic baseball bat.
Williams said he was deliberately set afire, but Hines maintained that his wife's cigarette accidentally set the youth ablaze after he was doused with lighter fluid. Williams was treated for second- and third-degree burns over 10 percent of his body.
Hines told Kaufman: "I know what happened in our basement is totally wrong. I also know that even though Sammy Williams was burned unintentionally, that I feel responsible for that.
"But as far as killing Sammy Williams or anyone else for any amount of money, that I would not do, I swear," Hines declared.
Kaufman acquitted the couple of conspiracy to murder, saying he had a reasonable doubt whether they intended to kill the youth.
He also acquitted them of assault, noting that there was no evidence that Williams was assulated on the federal property -- Fort Washington Park -- where the Hineses were arrested. The arrests on U.S. land formed the basis of the federal charges. The torture incident is still under investigation by Prince George's County authorities.
The Hineses and Williams went to the park after the torture session in the couple's basement July 25. Hines said the youth joined them voluntarily while awaiting word from a friend who had promised to get the $105 the couple said they were owed.
Williams testified, "I thought I was going to my execution. I thought it was my last ride. They had told me they wouldn't let me go after burning me." He said he ran for his life when he spotted a police officer.