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Life without parole for Md. murderer

A Prince George's County judge Wednesday sentenced a Landover man to life without parole for fatally stabbing a man and trying to kill a young woman -- the murder victim's wife -- during a 2009 house robbery.

Following a hearing of about 90 minutes, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams imposed the sentence on Lawrence T. Covington, 36, of Landover.

She also sentenced Covington to life in prison for attempted murder, and ordered that the two sentences be served consecutively.

In May, a Circuit Court jury convicted Covington of first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery and other offenses. The jury acquitted Covington of a second murder.

It was the second trial for Covington. Last December, the judge declared a mistrial after another jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Covington was convicted in the grisly slaying of Maurice Fountain, 24, and the attempted murder of Fountain's wife, Genea Simms Fountain, 22. The two were attacked around mid-day on March 26, 2009, in the home they lived in in an upper-middle class neighborhood just south of Upper Marlboro.

Simms Fountain, who was pregnant at the time, was stabbed and had her throat slashed but survived. She went on to give birth to a girl, who is to celebrate her first birthday Thursday.

Covington was acquitted of murdering LePrince Hall, 41, Simms Fountain's stepfather. Hall was also stabbed to death in the home.

During the sentencing hearing, Simms Fountain told the judge that she remembers the attack every day. "As days go by, I do not forget about what happened," she said. "But I stay strong."

Simms Fountain said she suffers pain on the left side of her body because of nerve damage from the wounds she suffered.

She said she and Fountain had grown up in the same neighborhood and had been best friends since childhood. They had been married for nine days when the attack occurred, prosecutors said.

Given the chance to speak, Covington told the judge and a courtroom packed with relatives of the victims, and a handful of his own family members, that he is innocent.

"I've been accused of something it's impossible for me to have committed or have done," Covington said.

At the time of the attack, Covington said, he weighed 450 pounds. He said it would have been impossible to have committed the crime and left "no DNA, no sweat."

Covington noted that Simms Fountain -- the state's key witness -- told police the attacker weighed "maybe 250 pounds."

"I knew LePrince Hall, yes I did, and he and I were on a good level," Covington said.

Prosecutors said Covington had done occassional work for Hall, who ran a towing business.

Covington said he had never met Simms Fountain or Fountain and did not attack them.

Covington said he has sympathy for Simms Fountain and the relatives of the victims, but "they really need to look at the [evidence]."

Despite the gruesome nature of the crime, police found no physical or circumstantial evidence -- such as a fingerprint, DNA, or cellphone records -- placing Covington at the scene of the crime.

According to prosecutors, the attacker stole a large-screen TV and jewelry and rode off in Hall's Cadillac Escalade, which was found in Southeast Washington. Prosecutors did not present any evidence at either of the two trials connecting Covington to any of the stolen merchandise or the Escalade.

The state's case relied on the testimony of Simms Fountain.

In both trials, she testified that on the morning of the attack, she and her husband left the house to go to the hospital to learn the gender of their unborn baby. Simms Fountain testified that as they left, she glanced at a man who had come to the home that morning, and that man was Covington.

When they returned to the home, Simms Fountain said, she was surprised by a man who brandished a handgun 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 for the assailant not to harm her, she testified.

Prosecutors said Covington fatally stabbed Fountain, then slashed and stabbed Simms Fountain.

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

In a press conference following the sentencing, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said Covington's sentence was the stiffest he could recall being meted out by a county judge. "I think it's entirely appropriate given the circumstances of this crime."

Relatives of the victims thanked Assistant State's Attorneys C.T. Wilson, Michael Glynn, and Dorothy Engel, each of whom worked on one or both of Covington's trials.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  August 18, 2010; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Homicide , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda , Updates  | Tags: Glenn F. Ivey, Prince George's County crime  
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GREAT JOB -- I'm pretty certain this creep's weight was constantly changing, MJCS has several different weights for this career criminal. Perhaps he can sweat his DNA out behind bars.

Posted by: PGneedsaccountability | August 18, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't know. The punishment sounds pretty steep for a case where there is apparently only eye-witness testimony to convict him. Was the fat guy found in possession of stolen goods from the house? It doesn't sound like it from this article. Why was he acquitted of the father-in-law's stabbing, but convicted of the others? The father-in-law was found in the basement, according to the story linked to above. Had the killer already been inside the home? I wasn't on the jury, and these WaPo articles tend to leave out a lot, so I'll defer to the folks who heard the case. But still I have some doubts.

Posted by: mercredi | August 19, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't think a sentence should be based on the evidence, it should be based on the conviction. I think life without parole is certainly appropriate. The survivor saw this man kill her husband, he also tried to kill her and her baby. The convicted murderer has an extensive record. What is a guy doing on school property with a deadly weapon-- at the age of 30? Should have been put away years ago..

Posted by: PGneedsaccountability | August 19, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The judge can impose any sentence he sees fit. Considering the first trial was a mistrial, and the failure to convict him on the father-in-law's murder--even though the FIL was dead in the home!--I'd say there's enough reasonable doubt in this case for the judge to take that into consideration.

Posted by: mercredi | August 19, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

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