Prosecutor seeks death penalty

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against a Columbia County mother and son accused of fatally beating a Grovetown woman.

District Attorney Ashley Wright confirmed Friday that her office filed a notice of intent with Superior Court to seek the death penalty against Rebecca Sears, 41, and her 20-year-old son, Christopher Bowers. The two were indicted by a Columbia County grand jury Wednesday on murder charges in the death of 41-year-old Laverne "Kay" Parsons. They also were indicted on armed robbery and burglary charges.

"It's appropriate to file it soon after the indictment," said Mrs. Sears' lawyer, Victor Hawk, whose brother Jacque is defending Mr. Bowers.

The indictment charges Mrs. Sears, of the 200 block of Hot Springs Drive, and Mr. Bowers, of the 4000 block of Briarwood Drive, Martinez, with fatally beating Mrs. Parsons -- Mrs. Sears' next-door neighbor -- with a bat and claw hammer.

It also accuses the mother and son of stealing a gold necklace and a watch from Mrs. Parsons' home.

Assistant District Attorney Philip Catalano called Mrs. Sears the "mastermind" behind the plan during an April 16 bond hearing and said she instructed Mr. Bowers to fatally beat Mrs. Parsons with a claw hammer.

Mr. Hawk said a death penalty notice won't change his defense strategy, but it does increase the stakes.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

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The discovery phase of the death penalty trial likely will start after an arraignment hearing, which Rebecca Sears' attorney, Victor Hawk, expects to take place in the next two to three weeks.