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Lorne Anthony GEORGE





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16) - Robbery
Number of victims: 2 + 1
Date of murder: November 14, 1997
Date of arrest: 1 week after
Date of birth: 1971
Victims profile: David Powers, 50, Nicole Watts and Watts' unborn fetus
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: North Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Status: Sentenced to two life sentences, to be served consecutively, on August 1999

South Carolina youth convicted of triple murder, will serve two life sentences

By Laura Barandes -

August 5, 1999

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (Court TV) Though Lorne George argued passionately in his own defense, a South Carolina jury was unconvinced. George, charged with the 1997 killings of David Powers, Nicole Watts and Watts' unborn fetus, was found guilty on all three counts of murder. Judge R. Markely Dennis, Jr. then sentenced 18-year-old George to two life sentences, to be served consecutively.

On November 14, 1997, Richard Vargo returned to his Charleston County home to find two dead bodies. The first was 50-year-old Powers, a family friend, sprawled on the steps leading to the small building. Inside, Vargo found the body of his fiancee, Watts, underneath a table in the living room. She was six months pregnant.

For nearly a week, investigators were unable to make any headway in the case. Then, a local resident came forward to report that he had been shot at by four youths who claimed to be trick-or-treating. A day after the incident, Michael Rea, who chased the attackers away with a baseball bat, found four 9mm shell casings and a clip for a 9mm Glock pistol at the scene.

When tests revealed these shell casings had been fired by the same gun that killed Powers and Watts, Rea was shown photos of several youths and identified four of them as his previous attackers George, Christopher Howard, Robert Howard, and Jamar Chance.

Lorne George was charged with three counts of murder (including the unborn fetus) and was tried as an adult. (Christopher Howard was also charged as an adult and currently awaits trial. Robert Howard and Chance were charged as juveniles and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder.)

During George's trial, prosecutors argued that Powers and Watts were killed during a botched robbery attempt. According to their theory, George and the other defendants planned to force Powers to withdraw money from an ATM, but Powers refused. At that point, said prosecutors, George shot Powers four times. Later, as supported in testimony of Robert Howard and Chance, George apparently returned to kill Watts. Authorities later retrieved the murder weapon, which, according to Chistopher Howard's police statement, was buried in George's backyard.

Defense attorney Russell Brown maintained that George was not part of the group that went to the Powers house. Testifying on his behalf, George insisted that he was not even aware that anyone lived in the Powers house until emergency vehicles arrived after the shootings. Brown argued that discrepancies in the testimony of Robert Howard and Chance in which they point to George as the triggerman show that they were simply trying to reduce their own punishment by implicating George.

Still, the stories told by the two youths were, in many respects, remarkably similar.

Jurors deliberated seven hours before convicting George. Although George was tried as an adult, the death penalty was not considered because of his young age at the time of the killings. George plans to appeal.



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