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Man convicted of murder, robbery in Prince George's case

Ruben Castaneda

A Prince George's County jury on Tuesday convicted a Landover man of fatally stabbing one man and trying to kill a young woman during a 2009 house robbery.

After deliberating for about four hours, the jury convicted Lawrence T. Covington, 35, of first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery and other offenses. The jury acquitted Covington of another murder he was accused of.

Covington did not outwardly react as the verdicts were read. Some of the more than a dozen relatives and friends of the victims who were in court to hear the verdict wept and hugged after they heard the jury's decision.

It was the second time the state had tried Covington for the crime that occurred around mid-day on March 26, 2009, in an upper-middle class neighborhood just south of Upper Marlboro. In December, a mistrial was declared after a jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of the counts. ]

Killed in the attack were LePrince Hall, 41, and Maurice Fountain, 24. Fountain's pregnant wife, Genea Simms Fountain, 22, was seriously wounded but survived. Simms Fountain, who was Hall's stepdaughter, later gave birth to a girl.

Covington was convicted of the murder of Fountain, the attempted murder of Simms Fountain, robbery, and other offenses. He was acquitted of the murder of Hall.

According to prosecutors, the attacker stole a large-screen TV and jewelry, and drove off in Hall's Cadillac Escalade, which was later found in Southeast Washington.

Despite the grisly nature of the crime, police found no physical or circumstantial evidence -- such as a fingerprint, DNA, or phone records -- connecting Covington to the crime. The state's case was based on the testimony of Simms Fountain, who picked Covington out of a photo array. In both trials, she testified that she had glanced at a man who had come to the home that morning, and that the man was Covington.

Later, after she and her husband had returned from an errand, Simms Fountain testified, she was surprised by the man, who brandished a handgun, spun her around and put her face-down on the floor in a breakfast nook area near the kitchen.

Fountain walked in, and the attacker ordered him to the ground, Simms Fountain testified. The attacker demanded valuables, and Fountain said his wife was pregnant and pleaded with the assailant not to harm her, she testified. Prosecutors said Covington bound the hands of Fountain and his wife with plastic ties.

Prosecutors said Covington did not leave fingerprints because he wore gloves. Simms Fountain testified that she did not recall whether the attacker wore gloves.

In his closing argument, Assistant Public Defender Doug Irminger emphasized the lack of physical and circumstantial evidence and also reminded jurors of the initial descriptions Simms Fountain provided to detectives of the attacker. In statements to police, Simms Fountain said the assailant weighed "maybe 250 pounds." At the time of the crime, Covington weighed between 400 and 450 pounds, one of Covington's friends testified for the defense.

Covington weighed at least 350 pounds -- the limit of the scale -- when he was weighed at the county jail after his arrest about three weeks after the crime.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 29.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  May 26, 2010; 8:46 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Homicide , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda , Updates  | Tags: Prince George's County state's attorney's office  
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A PG County jury actually found someone guilty of murder? Amazing. Of course they acquitted him of another murder he committed and it took two trials for a PG County to finally find him guilty of the first murder. Bwaaahaaaaaaa

Posted by: checkered1 | May 26, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I am a black male and for the life of me i don't understand why the death penalty is not mandatory in double homicide or homicide kidnapping cases, I also live in PG county and im so tired of the wicked preying on the niave(those who don't carry handguns), we dont need more cops we need more citizens willing to put a hot slug in a thugs a..!!!

Posted by: talentedshaun | May 29, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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