MORE | Trial continues for Gwinnett wife, lover charged in husband's killing
PREVIOUSLY | Cop: Man searched for snake venom, spiders before Gwinnett man's killing
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 that someone is believed to have killed someone intentionally and without provocation.
The jury began deliberations Friday at 8:15 a.m. and returned its verdict after 7 p.m. The trial took two weeks from the beginning of jury selection to Friday night’s verdict.
Prosecutors argued that Tia Young and Lee conspired to kill George Young, collect his $1 million life insurance policy and have Lee take over George Young’s security company, which subcontracted for Ackerman Security. Both defendants’ attorneys said the state’s case was thin and that Lee and Tia Young having a romantic relationship did not make them killers. Lee’s attorney also pointed out that Lee did not have the proper certification to run George Young’s company.
Lee had been living with the Young family for about two years at the time of George Young’s death. Lee had fallen on hard times and was living in hotels when George Young gave him a job and invited him to stay in the Young home rent-free, though Lee started paying $500 a month in rent once he was financially able. It is unclear when Lee’s romantic relationship with Tia Young began; before police discovered the affair, both Tia Young and Lee said they were like siblings, and Tia Young was listed as “Big Sis” in Lee’s cellphone contacts.
After George Young was shot, Tia Young refused to go outside, telling a 911 operator she was too squeamish and didn’t want to see her husband “like that,” according to a recording of the call. Lee told the 911 operator he was performing CPR on George Young, but Dr. James Downs, an associate medical examiner for Gwinnett County, didn’t see anything indicting CPR had been performed in an autopsy. After the two shots were fired, a neighbor saw a man, which prosecutors argued was Lee, go under George Young’s car and run back inside.
Lee placed a GPS tracker on George Young’s car in the weeks before the killing. Lee told police George Young wanted it for safety reasons, but text messages showed that when an app notified George Young of the tracker’s placement on his car, Lee told him that the tracker was actually trying to record Lee’s movements and it was a mistake, Gwinnett County Cpl. David Smith said.
Police found evidence that Lee had searched for snake venom and highly poisonous black widow spiders in the weeks before George Young was shot, Smith said. On Tia Young’s phone, investigators found multiple humorous and sexual memes and cartoons about affairs, Smith said. One cartoon featured a fortune teller telling a woman “Your husband will meet a violent end.” The woman replies: “Will I get convicted?”
This was Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tracey Mason’s first murder trial; Mason was elected in July 2018, replacing retired Judge Tom Davis.
Sentencing for both defendants will be held on April 11. Both plan to ask for a new trial, their attorneys said. There are only two sentencing options for the murder convictions: life in prison with the possibility of parole, or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The district attorney's office did not seek the death penalty in this case.
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Channel 2's Matt Johnson reports.