Bluffton teens found not guilty in beating case

By Jaime Dailey - bio | email

BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - Two Bluffton teens were found not guilty of beating a man in his own back yard.

Brian Lanese was grilling steaks on Oct. 30, 2008 at his home in Windy Lakes when three teens attacked both Lanese and his friend after trying to break into his shed, according to authorities. Lanese spent nearly a month in the hospital recovering.

Harry Battle and Theo Hamilton faced several charges in the case, including burglary and assault with intent to kill. They were 16 when the beating occurred and were initially charged as adults. Their trial was moved to family court, which means a judge decided their sentence instead of a jury.

Judge Robert Armstrong stated he found inconsistencies with the state's star witness Kuwan Fields, who said the two teens committed the crime with him. Fields pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser charges in exchange for his testimony. The judge said Fields told different stories on the stand about what happened that night of the attack.

Armstrong also brought up a taped phone conversation Fields made from the jail, telling the person on the other line that one of his cousins should have been on the front page of the newspaper with him after he was arrested.

"We knew going in this was a tough case. This was a tough case two years ago, and we've been working with law enforcement for the past two years, trying to make sure we uncover every piece of evidence we could. We presented all of that to the judge and we respect his decision," said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone.

Previous Stories:

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.