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Suspect in South Huntington homicide wanted witness dead, police say

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Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

An Irwin man awaiting trial in a homicide case is accused of offering a fellow inmate at the Westmoreland County Prison $1,500 to kill a witness slated to testify against him.

Lee J. Atwood, 54, was charged on Thursday by state police in Belle Vernon with criminal solicitation and criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

Police allege Atwood repeatedly asked the inmate to kill a witness against him in the Aug. 12 shooting death of George R. “Moose” Williams, 46, of Yukon at a South Huntingdon home.

Atwood approached the unidentified inmate on more than one occasion during September to kill Adam Lilliock, who owns the home where the shooting took place, Trooper Thomas Hartley wrote in an affidavit of probable cause filed on Thursday before Hempfield District Judge Mark Mansour.

The “hitman” is identified only as a confidential informant in court documents.

According to Harley, Atwood offered the inmate “$750 ... to be paid in advance and $750 to be paid later.”

“Atwood drew several pictures of Lilliock's residence, maps of the surrounding area and directions to the house for the (informant) to use as a reference,” Hartley wrote. “(Atwood) also specifically requested that he wanted the confidential informant to put ‘two bullets in his head,' and that would ‘take care of the problem,' ” Hartley wrote.

Atwood described the interior of Lilliock's home and where the firearms were kept.

“Atwood also advised the confidential informant not to discuss their conversation with anyone,” the affidavit said.

Hartley could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Atwood has been held in the prison without bond since his arrest on the evening of Williams' murder.

On Sept. 11, Scottdale District Judge Chuck Moore ordered Atwood to stand trial for allegedly killing Williams during a confrontation at Lilliock's home while Atwood was attempting to collect a debt.

During a preliminary hearing, inmate David M. Weston, 26, testified Atwood said during a jailhouse talk that he had ruined his life because “I killed this rat.”

Weston testified that Atwood said he “got jumped” while trying to collect the debt but returned later, promising a “showdown.”

“He said he handled that,” Weston testified.

Weston, of Natrona Heights, is no longer being held in the prison while awaiting trial for trespassing and simple assault.

An autopsy showed that Williams was shot in the back with a shotgun.

State police later searched Atwood's home and seized eight shotguns, as well as ammunition, two firearms and a pocketknife from his vehicle.

Atwood, who has denied firing the fatal shots, is charged with first-degree homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He is being held in the prison without bail.

Mansour scheduled Atwood's preliminary hearing on the attempted homicide charges for 10:45 a.m. Oct. 11.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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