NAPLES — The man accused of murdering his wife and five children has been ordered held without bond.
Mesac Damas, 33, is being held at the Collier County Jail in southwest Florida, where authorities say he has been placed on suicide watch. He did not appear at an initial court hearing Wednesday.
A judge has appointed Deputy Public Defender Michael Orlando to represent him. Orlando says he will file a not guilty plea before his client’s arraignment in October.
Damas was extradited to Florida from Haiti, where authorities say he fled to after slaying his wife and five children at their Naples town house. An arrest warrant indicates he cut their throats and stabbed them.
Second teen arrested in theft at Palm Beach Zoo
WEST PALM BEACH — A second teen arrested for breaking into the Palm Beach Zoo and stealing four monkeys and a parrot has been ordered held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Jonathan Lopez, 18, was arrested and charged Tuesday for his part in the Sept. 9 break-in. He faces charges of burglary, grand theft and cruelty to animals. Lopez appeared in court Wednesday.
Police say the motive may have been to sell the animals on the black market.
Police already arrested 17-year-old Sean Patrick Harrison on Sept. 11. He was charged with grand theft and burglary.
Investigators believe at least one other person was involved in the theft.
Bond denied in woman’s death in upscale home
WINDERMERE — A husband was denied bond Wednesday after the death of wife inside their mansion in the upscale central Florida community of Isleworth.
Orange County jail spokesman Allen Moore said the 61-year-old Bob Ward will remain in the Orange County jail on charges of second-degree murder in the death of 55-year-old Diane Ward. The shooting took place Monday night.
An arrest affidavit shows he told dispatchers he shot his wife. An attorney for Bob Ward could not immediately be found.
Isleworth is one of Florida’s most expensive and prestigious neighborhoods. The secluded community in an Orlando suburb is home to hundreds of mansions and dozens of celebrities, prominent business executives and professional athletes, including golfer Tiger Woods.
Ward faced mounting financial pressures that included a $16,841 monthly mortgage that hasn’t been paid for more than a year, according to the Orlando Sentinel, citing court records.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported Wednesday that Ward and his wife moved to Orlando in 2007, taking his Atlanta company, Land Resources Group, with them. Ward filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Orlando last November.
Officials: Man arrested for prostitute beatings
DELRAY BEACH — Authorities say they arrested a man accused of severely beating at least 13 prostitutes in South Florida.
Authorities say Dane Matthew White, 28, of Boynton Beach, was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated battery.
They say he would pick up the women, negotiate a price, take them to another location and beat them repeatedly in the face and choke them.
White is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney.
Authorities say they believe there may be more women who were victimized and are asking them to come forward.
Former Sen. Martinez accepts job at lobbying firm
TALLAHASSEE — Former Sen. Mel Martinez will begin work as a lobbyist for one of the world’s largest law firms.
Martinez is joining DLA Piper two weeks after leaving office early. The firm has 3,500 lawyers in 29 countries and it has a large government affairs office in Washington. Martinez will work out of its Tampa offices.
Martinez can’t directly lobby members of Congress for two years, but he can advise clients on strategy and with whom to meet.
Martinez also has about $450,000 left in his Senate campaign account, which he can use to donate to Senate and House campaigns.
The firm said Wednesday that Martinez has strong contacts in Latin America, where the firm hopes to expand over the next year.
— Herald wire services