abused 4, cops say
A 31-year-old man was charged Saturday in connection with the discovery of four malnourished men being held against their will in a dungeon-like Houston home.
Walter Renard Jones faces two counts of injury to the elderly. He is being held without bond in the Harris County Jail and set to appear in court Monday.
Houston Police Department spokeswoman Jodi Silva said it’s possible additional charges will be filed as the investigation continues. The exact charges are decided by the district attorney’s office.
Police said Friday that the men told investigators they were forced to live in the garage — which had one chair, no bed and a possibly malfunctioning air conditioner — so their captor could cash their public assistance checks.
Police said the men were living in “deplorable conditions” after being lured by promises of food and cigarettes.
Five found guilty
in cruise shipwreck
Five employees of an Italian cruise company were convicted Saturday of manslaughter in the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 32 people, receiving sentences of less than three years that lawyers for victims and survivors criticized as too lenient.
The guilty verdicts for multiple manslaughter and negligence were the first reached in the sinking of the cruise liner carrying more than 4,000 crew and passengers near the Tuscan shore in January 2012.
The ship’s captain, the only remaining defendant, was denied a plea bargain and is being tried separately. He faces up to 20 years, if convicted of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship.
Syrian forces bomb
rebels in key town
Syrian government forces bombed a strategic rebel town in the country’s north for the third day in a row Saturday, pounding it with airstrikes that killed at least five people, activists said.
President Bashar Assad’s troops in recent weeks have seized the momentum in the civil war, now in its third year. Regime forces have been on offensive against rebels on several fronts, including in the northern Idlib province along the border with Turkey.
In Idlib, government forces this week besieged the town of Saraqeb, hitting it with rockets, tank fire and air raids, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Land for sale may
be booby trapped
Federal officials preparing to sell the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons can’t guarantee that explosives and other booby traps aren’t hidden on the 103-acre spread.
In fact, they will openly warn bidders that land mines might be planted throughout Ed and Elaine Brown’s bucolic property in the small town of Plainfield. And they say prospective buyers won’t be allowed on the grounds until they submit a winning bid that frees the government of liability for dismemberment or death.
The Browns, who do not recognize the federal government’s authority to tax its citizens, were in a nine-month standoff with authorities in 2007 after they were sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. U.S. marshals posing as supporters arrested them peacefully.
They were convicted in 2009 of amassing weapons, explosives and booby traps and of plotting to kill federal agents who came to arrest them. Ed and Elaine Brown, now in their 70s, are serving sentences of 37 and 35 years respectively.