GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett mother of three and her alleged secret boyfriend are facing murder charges for allegedly shooting and killing her husband. Opening arguments and testimony in the double trial began Thursday.
Tia Young and Tim Lee are both charged in the murder of George Young, who was found shot to death on his front porch on Mantauk Hill Drive when he arrived home from working a late-night security shift in November 2017.
Prosecutors believe the defendants were having an affair before coming up with a plot to murder him, in order to collect on his $1 million life insurance policy.
George, 43, had three children who were ages 8, 13 and 17 at the time of his death. Young, along with her mother, brother and children were all home when he died.
On the first day of testimony, the defense didn't hold back on the state's first witness, George Young's former boss Robert Strickland.
The defense objected multiple times during Strickland's testimony and called his interview with detectives hearsay.
Strickland was a friend of Young's and his wife is Tia Young's cousin. Strickland told the court Thursday that Tia Young called them moments after George Young was killed.
He testified about the two defendants' "suspicious behavior" right after the shooting, when he arrived at the Young home. He stated that crime scene tape was still up and Lee talked about sending the couple's three children to school the next day. Tia Young allegedly also asked if he would help her find her husband's insurance policy.
He also noted that the home's security camera was not connected and he considered it "odd," considering the fact that Young worked as a security guard and had his own employees.
Before her arrest, Young told 11Alive that her husband was a “really good guy” and cried over the idea that someone targeted him.
“I mean, you took an innocent man from his wife and three children, and a host of other friends and family that really, really loved him,” Young told 11Alive about a month after his death. “If you can find it in your heart, anywhere, turn yourself in and just come clean. It would mean the world to my family.”
THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING
The night George was killed, both Tia and Tim were there when police arrived. According to the original incident report, Tim was performing CPR on George. After the shooting, Tia Young says she told dispatch "she could not bring herself to do it [perform CPR]."
That night, Young originally said she heard gunshots outside of the home. Watch her explain what happened in the video below.
As time went on, detectives said Young showed less and less emotion about her husband’s death and, in subsequent interviews, kept changing her story.
"During the time of the incident, we understand as homicide detectives that everyone experiences that differently. When we first met her, she was upset and she was distraught...later in subsequent interviews, emotion did play a part in that, or lack thereof for me,” said Detective David Smith with the Gwinnett County Police Department at the time.
A MOTIVE EMERGES
In April 2018, Gwinnett County Police charged Young and Lee with aggravated assault, malice murder and felony murder. Homicide detectives said George allowed Lee, his friend, to move into his family home in February 2016 when he was out of work and had no place to live. George even offered him a job at his security firm, where he worked as a sub-contractor.
Lee had been a longtime friend of the couple, who had been married for 22 years, police said. The secret, adulterous relationship began in May 2017 or before, detectives said.
“Their initial stories began to not add up, which I found suspicious for people who both just experienced the same incident,” Smith said.
Police said Tia and Tim had financial motivations to kill George. According to Smith, George’s life insurance policy would have a payout of $1 million.
The biggest discrepancies in both of the suspects' stories was the time frame, each telling different accounts of when they heard the two shots from outside the home, and what happened in the several minutes after the gunshots and when they called 911.
Prosecutors also claim Lee put a GPS tracker on George’s vehicle and later tried to remove it from the car after the shooting. They also said Young allegedly gave her middle child a sleeping pill so he would sleep through the alleged murder. The child would normally get up and walk the dog at that time, prosecutors said.
In a preliminary hearing, prosecutors also said that Young and Lee came up with an unsubstantiated claim that George was running an illegal gun operation and they believed someone tried to run him off a road. They also pointed to the fact that the suspects allegedly knew that the home’s security camera was not working and no one was seen running from the scene.