Originally created 01/18/06

Couple frees hostage after 24-hour standoff



STATESBORO, Ga. - A 24-hour hostage standoff ended without incident Tuesday morning when a couple that had held an attorney captive in his office overnight walked out and surrendered. No one was injured.

Robert Eugene "Robbie" Brower, 43, a former client of Michael G. Hostilo's, and Mr. Brower's wife, Connie, emerged from the law offices of Zettler, Hostilo and Register near the Bulloch County Courthouse shortly after 9:30 a.m..

The Browers were charged with a single count of kidnapping, but other charges are likely, Statesboro Police Chief Stan York said.

Mr. Hostilo was reunited with his family, Mr. York said.

The surrender came hours after a 6 a.m. resolution attempt ended in gunfire. When the couple walked from the office, gunshots rang out and they retreated inside.

Mr. York said the dynamics of the standoff changed after that.

"They were scared," he said. "They weren't really positive about giving up at the time."

Mr. York said hostage negotiators explained what would happen and apparently reassured the couple.

"We fulfilled some of their requests," he said. "They wanted their day in court; we're giving them that."

The incident appears to have been sparked by Mr. Brower's dissatisfaction with Mr. Hostilo's representation in a criminal case, officials said.

He and his wife wanted to bring attention to it, officials said. They did not discuss specifics of the case.

Mr. Brower has a series of felony convictions dating from 1982.

In his most recent case, Mr. Brower, represented by Mr. Hostilo, pleaded guilty in Chatham County Superior Court on Oct. 13, 1996, on an aggravated assault charge, court records show.

Those records show the defense attempted to withdraw that plea beginning in March 1997 but failed.

Mr. Brower's parole ended June 5, 2002, court records show.

"If you've got to be in a situation like this, this is how you want it to turn out," Mr. York said.