An Oxon Hill couple convicted of kidnaping and torturing a young neighbor after a dispute over a marijuana deal were sentenced provisionally here today to the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman told the couple, Vera and Curtis Hines, he will reconsider the sentence in three to six months after the Bureau of Prisons prepares an indepth psychological evaluation of them.
Kaufman convicted the couple Oct. 3 of kidnaping Samuel Williams Jr., 18, last July 25 and holding him during a three-hour torture session in the basement of their home. The Hineses stretched Williams between two posts, burned him with cigarettes, threatened to cut him up, first with a meat cleaver, then with a chain saw and doused him with lighter fluid and lit it, according to testimony at their trial.
Hines told the judge today: "It was very foolish of me to try to scare Sammy Williams in that way. Before and since those events, I assure you, I tried to live a good and Christian life."
Hines, 36, has been suspended from his job as a sixth-grade teacher at the Friendship Learning Center in Southeast Washington.
Vera Hines, 34, a self-employed bookkeeper who was committed to a mental hospital in San Diego, Calif., several years ago, described her life as one "of pain." She told the judge she was raped twice before she was 15 and had 15 miscarriages and was beaten by her first husband.
In tears, she told Judge Hoffman: "I don't want my daughter to grow up like me, nor do I want my son ever to stand before a judge. I don't feel sorry for myself at all. But I feel pain. I feel remorseful." Her pre-teenage children are staying with relatives in Texas, she said.
Hines testified during the trial that he and his wife decided to scare Williams after he delivered about a quarter kilo (8.8 ounces) of marijuana to them in return for $105. Hines claimed Williams cheated them in the deal.
Williams escaped and ran to a park policeman at Fort Washington Park where he and the Hineses went following the basement torture session. Williams was hospitalized for about a week and treated for second-and third-degree burns over 10 percent of his body.
The judge acquitted the Hineses of assaulting and conspiring to murder the youth, saying he had a reasonable doubt whether they intended to kill Williams. The judge also declared the Hineses did not assault Williams on federal property, even though they had "thoroughly terrorized, beaten and burned" Williams and "dangled and played with him."