Teens charged in brutally beating Bluffton man on trial

By Jaime Dailey - bio | email

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - It's been a year and half since a Bluffton man was almost beaten to death in his own backyard.

Brian Lanese was grilling steaks the night before Halloween at his home in Windy Lakes when three teens attacked both Lanese and his friend after trying to break-into his shed. Lanese spent nearly a month in the hospital recovering. Meanwhile, the three teens were arrested for the attack and today two of them, Harry Battle and Theo Hamilton, stood before a judge on Tuesday.

It was emotional inside the courtroom as the victims took the stand and the state played the 911 tape from that night.

Battle and Hamilton filed into family court, facing a number of charges including burglary and assault with intent to kill. Police say they brutally beat Brian Lanese.

Both Hamilton and Battle were 16 at the time of the incident and while they were initially charged as adults their trial was moved to family court, which means a judge will decide their sentence instead of a jury.

On Tuesday afternoon, the state started their case by calling Lanese's friend Jeffery Wooten to the stand. He was there that night and explained how it all happened while Brian was going to the shed to get a soda for his wife.

"We were met by three men in masks, dark clothing," said Wooten. "One attacked me, the other two went towards Brian. They struck Brian. The other one and I ended up in the ditch adjacent to the yard and when I looked up, Brian was on his hands and knees."

During his testimony, Wooten said the skeleton mask the state put into evidence was the one the attackers were wearing that night. The state also presented a gun that was found at the scene and used to beat Lanese.

Brian Lanese and his wife also testified. Brian Lanese was only on the stand for a few minutes. He said he couldn't remember much about that night, just carving a pumpkin with their twin boys before the attack.

Wednesday morning, the third defendant, Kuwan Fields is expected to testify. He has already plead guilty for assaulting Wooten but he won't be sentenced until after this trial is ended.

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