Convicted killers Tia Young and Harvey Timothy Lee both received life sentences Thursday in the murder of her husband, George Young, but only she has a chance to be released in the future.
Lee, 39, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Tia Young, 43, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, plus three years for attempted tampering with evidence. Tia Young will be eligible for parole in 2049, when she is 73 years old. If she is granted parole, she will serve the additional three-year sentence before being released.
Lee and Tia Young were convicted of killing George Young, Tia’s husband of 22 years, on April 5 after a two-week trial. Lee was found guilty on charges of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. Tia Young was convicted of felony murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to tamper with evidence. She was found not guilty on one charge of malice murder.
In Georgia, felony murder indicates someone is believed to be responsible for another person’s death in the commission of another felony, such as aggravated assault. Malice murder indicates someone is believed to have killed intentionally and without provocation.
George Young was shot in the face and chest as he arrived at his Buford home around 11:25 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2017. Tia Young didn’t call 911 until 11:31, five minutes after multiple neighbors said they’d heard the gunshots, and Lee admitted to police he took a tracking device off of George Young’s car in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. While he told police and a 911 operator that he had done CPR, a medical examiner found no physical evidence of that in an autopsy.
Tia Young and Lee had been in a secret romantic relationship in the months before George Young’s death and continued it after the shooting. Lee had been living in the Young home for about two years; George Young had given him a job and a free place to stay when he heard Lee was out of work and living in hotels. Lee eventually began paying $500 monthly rent once he was financially stable.
Both Lee and Tia Young declined to address the court Thursday. George Young’s family decided not to make any victim impact statements. Tia Young’s mother had intended to, but suffered a fall and was hospitalized before the hearing. While Lee’s sister and mother were in the courtroom, they did not speak.
Attorneys for both Young and Lee asked for sentences of life with the possibility of parole, while prosecutor Stephen Fern asked Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tracey Mason to sentence both defendants to life without parole.
Addressing the defendants during the Thursday afternoon sentencing, Mason said the trial, her first murder case, had been “particularly poignant.”
“I am heartbroken for the family and friends of George Young in the gallery. I have looked you in the eyes for two weeks and I am so sorry for your loss,” Mason said. “I cannot replace someone who I’ve heard to be a giving father for his sons, a doting son for his mother, a loving brother to his siblings … In this world we can use as many good people as we can get. He was a man who saw a friend struggling, Mr. Lee, and brought him into his home. Mr. Young lost his life in spite of all of his good deeds.”
In sentencing Tia Young, Mason said the killing would not have taken place if it had not been for Tia Young pursuing an extramarital affair with Lee, but that she was not sure that Tia Young had “fully contemplated” the act of murder.
Mason placed a larger portion of the blame on Lee, saying she believed he was motivated by a $1 million life insurance policy that covered George Young.
“Looking at your faces and knowing that there are three boys that are suffering for all of this, I can’t believe a million dollars would be worth that suffering,” Mason said.
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