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Hephzibah woman sentenced to life in '06 murder of Thomson woman

THOMSON, Ga. - Antonia "Toni" Renee Lowe was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after being convicted of murder by a jury in McDuffie County Superior Court.

A jury of five men and seven women deliberated only 39 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty to a charge of malice murder against Ms. Lowe, a Hephzibah resident. Two other charges, felony murder and aggravated assault, were merged with the malice murder conviction.

Ms. Lowe showed no emotion while seated beside defense attorney Michael Garrett, of Augusta, as Superior Court Clerk Connie Cheatham read aloud the jury's verdict about 1:40 p.m.

The defendant's murder trial began Monday with more than a dozen witnesses testifying in the case for Chief Assistant District Attorney Durwood Davis.

Ms. Lowe was convicted in the death of 47-year-old Lula Bell Scott, of Thomson, by striking her with a SUV on Story Randall Road in South McDuffie County on Sept. 1, 2006. Ms. Scott, who had previously been living with her daughter, Clarice Billings and Ms. Lowe in Hephzibah, wasn't reported missing until Sept. 4, 2006. For more than two months family members and local authorities searched for the whereabouts of Ms. Scott.

It wasn't until deer hunters discovered Ms. Scott's badly decomposed body in November of that year that authorities began trying to determine how she met her death.

A debris field of automobile parts were discovered near where the body was found, leading lawmen with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conclude that Ms. Scott had been run over by a vehicle.

Testifying in her own defense on Tuesday, Ms. Lowe claimed she hit a deer while en route to Washington, Ga. She said she had seen Ms. Scott earlier on Pitt Street in Thomson on Sept. 1, 2006, and had given Ms. Scott $30 in cash.

Earlier testimony indicated that Ms. Lowe was one of the last, if not the last persons to have seen Ms. Scott alive.

Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Roger W. Dunaway, Jr. sentenced Ms. Lowe, the mother of four children, to life in prison. She later was taken from the courthouse to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center where she will await transport to a state prison in the future.

Web posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009

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