Covington’s decision to forgo a jury trial left his fate entirely with the judge and prompted Fuente to issue a stern warning. He had encountered a similar situation only once before in his career, he told Covington, and he sentenced that defendant to death.
On Friday, after more than six months of reviewing court transcripts and medical records, Fuente said the horrifying manner in which the three victims were killed outweighed the defense argument that Covington was driven by mental illness.
From the outset of the case, Covington’s lawyers portrayed him as a deeply disturbed man who, at the time of the murders, was not taking prescribed medications to control his bipolar disorder.
Medical records showed that by age 15, he was taking the mood stabilizer lithium. His mother testified that throughout his teenage years and into adulthood, he swung wildly between periods of high energy and deep depression, was repeatedly hospitalized and tried to commit suicide multiple times. By the time his case went to trial, he was taking four different medications — Depakote, Seroquel, Zoloft and Klonopin.
The defense also highlighted Covington’s erratic behavior in court and some of his bizarre statements, including one moment last year when he told the court that after he killed his girlfriend, he tried to talk to her corpse.
“I remember having a conversation with Lisa about feeding the dog,” he said. “I don’t know how long this conversation lasted, but she was already dead.”
Prosecutors maintained that Covington was not propelled by mental illness, but was operating under the influence of alcohol and crack cocaine, which he consumed hours before the killings.
In their final argument to the judge, prosecutors asked Fuente to weigh heavily Covington’s excessive cruelty — the medical examiner deemed it “overkill.”
“In one episode of unparalleled violence, Edward Covington destroyed one small, tightly knit family,” they wrote.
Contact Anna M. Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips.