Two Charged in Slaying of Egyptian Family

By WAYNE PARRY
.c The Associated Press

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - The upstairs neighbor of an Egyptian Christian family found slain in their home in January was charged along with another man Friday in the killings, and authorities said the motive was robbery, not religious fanaticism, as some had feared.

Edward McDonald, 25, who rented a second-floor apartment above Hossam Armanious and his family, pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder, as did Hamilton Sanchez, 30. Both men were ordered held on $10 million bail.

``I didn't kill nobody, man,'' Sanchez said as he was led from the courtroom.

Armanious, a 47-year-old Coptic Christian; his wife, and their two daughters, ages 8 and 15, were found bound and gagged with puncture wounds to their throats.

The slayings raised tensions between Christian and Muslim immigrants in New Jersey. Armanious frequented Internet chat rooms, posting opinions under the user name ``I Love Jesus.'' Some Christians speculated he was killed by Muslim fanatics.

But Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said the killings took place during a robbery by the two men, who owed someone a large sum of money.

``I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: The motive for these murders was robbery. This was a crime based on greed, the desperate need of money,'' DeFazio said.

Authorities said thousands of dollars were withdrawn from Armanious' bank account using his ATM card in the days after the slayings.

03/04/05 15:39 EST