News In Brief - July 17, 2007

Armed man robs Rock Hill Howard Johnson

The Howard Johnson hotel at 911 Riverview Road was robbed by an armed man on Saturday, according to Rock Hill Police reports.

The robbery occured at 2:31 p.m. According to hotel clerk Umesh Patel, a man between the ages of 30 and 35, wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans and a hat, entered the lobby and pulled out a semi-automatic handgun.

"Don't look up," the robber said to Patel. "Here's the gun. Give me all your money."

Patel gave the man an undetermined amount of money, and the robber ran out the front door.

Two witnesses said they saw the suspect before the robbery, according to police reports. One said the suspect was calmly walking toward the back of the building; the other said the suspect was standing idly around the building.

Another witness saw the suspect leave the scene after the robbery driving a gray sedan with a North Carolina license plate.

Trial for man accused of holding teen girl to move

CAMDEN -- The man accused of kidnapping a 14-year-old girl and holding her hostage for 10 days in a booby-trapped bunker won't be tried in the Midlands.

A state judge will move Vinson Filyaw's trial after defense attorneys said it would be impossible to get an impartial jury from Richland or Kershaw counties.

But Judge G. Thomas Cooper did not decide Monday where the case would be tried or when.

Filyaw, 37, faces charges of kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct with a minor, among others.

Jury selection begins in hotel fire trial

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- One woman was seated Monday on the jury that will decide if a 37-year-old man is guilty of setting a fire that killed six people in a Greenville hotel more than three years ago.

The woman testified she believes the death penalty could apply to cases other than murder if the crime involved horrendous things done to children, The Greenville News reported on its Web site.

Jury selection is expected to last all week in the trial of Eric Preston Hans.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Hans, who is charged with arson causing death. The fire at the Comfort Inn off Interstate 385 in January 2004 killed six, injured 11 and sent many of the 46 registered guests into the freezing rain in only their pajamas.