Georgia man accused of killing wife’s divorce lawyer and setting office on fire

After the body of attorney Doug Lewis was discovered inside the building, investigators arrested Allen Tayeh on charges of malice murder and arson. An extreme example of how contentious US family court cases can get is the recent shooting death of a Georgia divorce attorney by his client’s estranged husband.

Lawrenceville police say that on December 7th, Allen Tayeh went to the office of attorney Doug Lewis, representing the woman divorcing Tayeh, and shot Lewis.

The local news outlet KENS reported, citing police, that Tayeh poured gasoline all over Lewis’s office and set it on fire before firefighters arrived to put out the fire and find the dead man’s body.

KENS reports that police could identify Tayeh as the suspect after hearing from a witness outside the law office who saw him run away from the fire while carrying a revolver with spent rounds in the cylinder. To top it all off, he was reportedly found near gasoline storage containers.

Tayeh was arrested and charged with murder with malice and arson. In the coming days, police said, Tayeh was to meet his estranged wife and Lewis at a court hearing.

As one Lawrenceville police lieutenant said to KENS, “It’s pretty brazen” what Tayeh is allegedly doing. “It came out of the blue,” they said. The legal community in Lawrenceville, Georgia, a city of 30,000 people located only 30 miles from Atlanta, was shocked to learn of Lewis’s death and the destruction of his office.

Lewis’s colleague, attorney Phil McCurdy, told KENS the day after the murder, “Doug was a consummate gentleman.” I never once witnessed him lose his cool, and he never once even raised his voice to me. When I was around him, he always treated others with dignity.

No one I’ve ever met had anything but the highest regard for him as an employee, a specialist, and a person.

Jesse Kent, a former law partner of Lewis, recalled that he was a devoted husband and father. ‘He was the standard that all lawyers, including myself, aspired to be,’ Kent eulogized in an email to the local station. Without him, the legal field will never be the same.

According to the American Bar Association Journal, attacks on lawyers because of their profession are highly unusual. Nonetheless, the ABA Journal noted that a 2018 survey series designed to gauge attorney violence found that family lawyers were more likely to report having been threatened within the previous year and more likely than attorneys generally to report having been assaulted, particularly by someone who had already threatened them.

An attorney interviewed for the journal speculated that this was due to the high levels of emotion involved in family law cases, which frequently involve divorce and child custody disputes.


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