ARLINGTON, TEX., JULY 2 -- Lawyer George Lott was ordered held on bail of $1,325,000 today after being charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of deadly assault in the shooting spree at a Fort Worth courtroom Wednesday.
Lott, 45, saying he was despondent about his divorce 2 1/2 years ago and his pending trial on child sexual-assault charges, surrendered at WFAA-TV in Dallas about six hours after the incident. There, he said in a taped interview that he had to do "a very horrible thing" to draw attention to wrongs he said the legal system had done to him.
Two lawyers were killed, two judges were hospitalized with bullet wounds and another lawyer was grazed by a bullet after a spectator opened fire with a handgun as a three-judge panel of the 2nd Judicial District Court of Appeals met at Tarrant County Courthouse, authorities said.
Interviews with court authorities, lawyers and neighbors today produced scattered details about Lott and indicated that he was frustrated by the handling of his divorce case and by child-molestation charges brought by his former wife.
Records show that Lott was divorced from Margo Livesay in January 1990 and that a jury awarded her custody of their son, Neal, now 4. Lott told television reporters that his appeal of the divorce decree had been denied in the 2nd District courtroom and that he knew none of the shooting victims.
Douglas Wright, a Fort Worth attorney who represented Livesay in the divorce case, said Lott "always thought his wife was getting favorable treatment."
Wright said that his father, Robert L. Wright, was a Tarrant County divorce judge for 21 years and that Lott made derogatory references about it throughout the divorce proceedings. "I asked the judge to order Mr. Lott not to mention my father," Wright said.
Family Court Judge Maryellen Hicks did so, Wright said, and that became the basis of Lott's appeal. "He appealed because the lawyer was the son of a judge," Wright said. "That's what made him so mad."
Wright said he and Livesay were "fearful" of Lott. "She made several allegations," he said. "I don't think he actually struck her, but he made violent gestures toward her that caused her fear."
Wright said Lott had three attorneys, all of whom resigned during the two-year proceedings before he began representing himself.
At the courthouse on the day before the shooting, Wright said, he acknowledged a familiar face in an elevator, then realized it was Lott and "wondered what he was doing there."
Livesay, who has a doctorate and a law degree and teaches computer science at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and lives there with Neal, could not be reached for comment today.
Lott, who lost visitation rights this spring, is scheduled for trial there July 20 on charges of molesting his son, Peoria police Sgt. Phil Benne said. Livesay accused Lott of assaulting Neal in a Peoria hotel room, Benne said.
Lott remains in Tarrant County jail where Sheriff Tim Minter said he will stay until a trial date is set. He also is charged with carrying a weapon in a place where weapons are prohibited. The capital murder count carries a possible death penalty.
Lott grew up in Fort Worth and attended the University of Texas Law School. He was a member of the Texas Bar Association from 1981 until 1988 when he voluntarily became inactive. For the last four years, he has lived in a modern apartment complex on Interstate 20 in southeast Arlington between Dallas and Fort Worth.
"I've seen this guy hundreds of times, and he's never said a word," said Lott's next-door neighbor for all four years, who asked to be identified only as "Al." He said he jogs daily on a path at the complex and often encountered Lott, an avid walker.
"He was really, really a strange guy," Al said. "He was like a zombie. No one around here will have any buddy-buddy stories about him."
"Al" said Lott seemed to do little other than fish, adding, "He was going out on his boat every day. He had a new white van, but I didn't ever see him going to work. I don't know how he supported himself."
Wright said Lott "had a considerable estate he had inherited somewhere. I think it was from his grandparents. He had assets of half a million dollars."
Bob Ray Sanders, a talk-show host at KLIF-AM radio in Dallas, said today that he is certain Lott called his program last week. Sanders said that he compared the voice of his caller with that of Lott interviewed on WFAA and that they were the same.
"He said he was tried in Tarrant County and that you didn't stand a chance of getting justice there," Sanders said.
KLIF replayed the segment today, and the caller said, "I have a problem with the system, the system being in Tarrant County. If you're charged, you're guilty until proven innocent."
Referring to the Texas Department of Human Services, he said, "They don't check out the references. They don't check out if the child has a history of telling stories."
Sanders said the caller "talked about four minutes and said that the system in Tarrant County had cost him his life."