Convicted murderer Wallace Lee petitions for new trial, judge to hear motion beginning March 1
- Written by Kristen Kitchens
- Published in News
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For almost six years, Wallace Lee has been in prison serving a life sentence for the double murder of 33-year-old Meghan Bowen and 39-year-old James Harden. Next month, Lee will return to the Superior Court of Coffee County for a judge to hear his motion for a new trial.
Evidence during Lee's trial, according to a statement from the district attorney's office following his conviction, "showed a history of violent acts Lee committed against Bowen, including beating in her front door with an ax, smashing the windows of her vehicle, physically attacking her, and threats that he 'better not catch' her with someone else. In each of these incidents, Lee himself called law enforcement in an apparent attempt to dispel any suspicion against himself."
Documents show that law enforcement also testified that the night before Bowen and Harden were killed, Lee reported that his house had been shot by "some unknown person." The bullets collected at Lee's residence were later compared to those that killed Bowen and Harden "and were found to have been fired from the same firearm." A witness who took the stand also stated that Lee had shot him in the foot with a .22-caliber pistol, which was also tested and shown to come from "the exact same firearm used to murder Bowen and Harden."
Officials with law enforcement also testified that while being interviewed, he claimed his last communication with Bowen had been "days before" the murders. According to testimony in the trial, a search of his cell phone records proved this to be untrue and showed that he had deleted his correspondences with Bowen from his phone.
The trial lasted for close to two and a half days, and the jury returned a guilty verdict in only 35 minutes. Lee was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, followed by an additional life sentence without parole to be served consecutively.
Since Lee's conviction, a motion for a new trial has been filed, with a judge expected to hear the request next month. The document argued multiple grounds of error for his conviction, stating the verdict was "contrary to the evidence and without evidence to support it," "decidedly strong against the weight of the evidence," and "contrary to the law and principles of justice and equity."
The motion also states the following:
"Whether or not the State proved the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence was nevertheless sufficiently close so as to warrant the Court to exercise its discretion to grant a new trial.
"Trial counsel committed ineffective assistance of counsel by not renewing his Motion for Change of Venue during voir dire when it became apparent the vast majority of potential jurors had personal relationships with the Victims, the Victims' families, the Defendant's family, and Assistant District Attorney John Rumker. Furthermore, trial counsel should never have withdrawn this motion following the selection of a jury.
"Trial court committed harmful error when it excused potential juror Amos Bise for a felony forgery conviction, despite his successful completion of the First Offender program.
"Trial counsel committed ineffective assistance of counsel when he failed to object to the testimony of the State's witness Cam Fambrough. This testimony concerned an interaction between the witness and the Defendant that took place three years prior to the incident the Defendant was on trial for and was irrelevant to the present case.
"Trial counsel committed ineffective assistance of counsel when he failed to object to the testimony of GBI Special Agent Ben Collins when Agent Collins testified to the contents of Verizon cell phone records for the Defendant and Victim Meghan Bowen. Agent Collins proceeded to discuss the contents of the Verizon records, as well as the contents of Cellbrite phone ‘dumps.’ The State failed to tender Agent Collins as an expert witness."
The motion will be heard on March 1, beginning at 9:00 a.m. According to an order signed by Judge Andy Spivey, the defense's counsel has advised that the hearing could take "several days," with the court allowing March 2 and 3 to be available "in case the hearing does not conclude on March 1."
Lee was transported and booked into the Coffee County Jail on February 2.
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