From Staff Reports
Welford Lee ‘Levi’ McCarty will spend the remainder of his life in jail after being found guilty Thursday morning in Greene County’s first capital murder trial in over two decades.
A Greene County jury returned verdict of guilty against McCarty Thursday morning on charges of capital murder and desecration of human corpse in the 2013 death of George County resident Donovan Cowart.
Judge Dale Harkey issued a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the capital murder conviction and an additional three years on the desecration charge. McCarty was also fined $5,000 and court costs.
McCarty, 37, was one of two men arrested May 5, 2015, a few days after authorities found Cowart’s dismembered body in a roadside pond in the Rounsaville Community. Robert Virgil Stevens, 27, the other man being charged with murder and desecration of a human corpse in the case, testified Tuesday morning against his co-defendant.
Stevens and other witnesses testified Cowart was killed because McCarty, who is accused of strong street gang ties, suspected he was an informant for police. Stevens testified McCarty shot Cowart in the head from close range next to a shallow grave that had been dug in advance. Testimony indicated Stevens and McCarty later took Cowart’s corpse from that grave, dismembered it and tried to sink it in a pond off Double Branch Road. The remains were found at that location in 2015 after George County officials received an anonymous tip.
The jury of 10 women and two men began deliberations late Wednesday after closing arguments from the prosecution and defense teams. Testimony began Tuesday morning.
Defense attorneys attempted to discredit Stevens’ and other witness testimony, saying those witnesses had something to gain by pinning the crime on his client. An exhibit entered as evidence on Tuesday shows Stevens’ testimony came in conjunction with a plea deal he has in place with the district attorney’s office. The deal reportedly offered a recommendation for a reduced sentence for Stevens if he pled guilty to the crimes and also provided truthful testimony concerning his personal knowledge and involvement in the case during McCarty’s trial.
“There were so many issues in this case that the jury couldn’t hear because of our rules of evidence,” District Attorney Tony Lawrence stated. “I am proud that the jury took the time to listen to, analyze and deliberate on the evidence that was presented in this case.”
“The death of Donovan Cowart was another sad chapter in showing those who are on drugs and in gangs commit acts of violence against others in our community. The family has waited four years to find out what happened to Donovan Cowart and while I know this won’t bring him back, I hope it will give them some peace that the justice system worked in holding McCarty accountable for Donovan’s death.”