Georgia Man Accused of Killing Wife’s Divorce Lawyer And Setting Office On Fire

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A Georgia divorce attorney was recently shot to death – and his office was set on fire – by a client’s estranged husband in an extreme example of how contentious US family court cases can get, according to authorities.

Police in the community of Lawrenceville allege that Allen Tayeh went to the office of a lawyer representing a woman in the process of divorcing him and shot the attorney, Doug Lewis, there on 7 December.

Tayeh is accused of then pouring gasoline all over Lewis’s office and lighting the building on fire before firefighters arrived to douse the blaze and discovered the slain man’s body, the local news outlet KENS reported, citing police.

A witness outside the law office during the fire led investigators to Tayeh, who was nearby, had been burned and was carrying a revolver with spent rounds in its cylinder, police told KENS. He was also in an area where there were fuel cans and which reeked of gasoline, according to officers.

Investigators booked Tayeh on counts of malice murder and arson. Tayeh was scheduled to meet his estranged wife and Lewis at a court hearing in the upcoming days, police added.

“It’s pretty brazen,” a lieutenant for Lawrenceville police, Jake Parker, told KENS of Tayeh’s alleged actions. “It’s kind of out of the blue.”

Lewis’s murder and the destruction of his office stunned the legal community in Lawrenceville, a city of 30,000 people just 30 miles from Atlanta.

“Doug was a consummate gentleman,” Lewis’s fellow attorney, Phil McCurdy, said to KENS the day after the killing. “I never heard him raise his voice, I never saw him lose his temper. I never saw him treat anyone except with respect.

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“I don’t know anyone who didn’t respect him as a colleague, as a professional and as a human being.”

A former law partner of Lewis, Jesse Kent, remembered him as an attentive husband to his wife and doting father to his children.

“He was the standard that all lawyers – including me – aspired to be,” Kent wrote in an email to the local station. “The legal profession will never be the same without him.”

It is rare for lawyers to be physically assaulted over the work they do, according to the American Bar Association Journal. But, the ABA Journal added, a series of surveys in 2018 aiming to measure violence against attorneys showed that family lawyers were more likely to have been threatened within the previous year and were more likely than attorneys in general to report having been assaulted, especially by someone who had already threatened them.

That is likely because family law cases, often centering on divorces and related child custody issues, produce particularly strong emotions among involved parties, an attorney interviewed by the journal said.

(Guardian UK)

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