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
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
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.