- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

MIAMI, Feb. 3 (UPI) — Two men allegedly involved in holding a mail carrier hostage for five hours were ordered held without bond Monday on weapons, kidnapping and assault charges.

They could face sentences of life in prison if they are convicted.

"We will prosecute with full force anybody who assaults or commits a crime of violence against an employee of the U.S. government," said U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez.

Nevia Abraham, 38, and Jonathan Hamilton, 47, approached mail carrier Tonya Mitchell in her mail truck Friday, investigators said.

Abraham remained in the vehicle with Mitchell for five hours before he was convinced to surrender, police said. Hamilton was arrested at the spot where Mitchell was taken hostage.

Investigators said the two men were not trying to steal the mail, but were trying to use Mitchell as a ruse to somehow get inside a house they wanted to rob.

Both men made their first appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate John O'Sullivan.

Mitchell remains in seclusion and has not talked to reporters. The Rev. Randall Holts said Mitchell's aunt maintained that her niece talked Abraham out of committing suicide.

"Her auntie told us she had a chance to talk to Tonya," Holts said. "And she told her the young man said, 'I know I'm going to jail — it's just a matter of adding up the years. I'm going to take my life now.'

"And she said, 'Don't take your life, choose life.'"

Holts said that's when Abraham surrendered.

"Everything she did under a threat or the pressure she was under helped to resolve this in a peaceful manner for her safety and everybody else in the community," said Steve Rothlein, assistant director of Miami-Dade County Police.

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