Defense attorneys for Edward Covington were in court in Tampa last week, presenting evidence to a judge to prove that Covington did not intend to harm his girlfriend and her children on Mother’s Day 2008, when they were killed. Covington faces first-degree murder charges and the death penalty if convicted.
Covington’s lawyers argue that Covington had gone off “mood stabilizer” medications (Seroquel and Depakote) after losing his medical coverage. As a result, he was uncontrollably bipolar, turned violent and used cocaine and alcohol. They say that he did not intend to harm Lisa Frieberg and her young children.
At the hearing, a pharmacologist and Covington’s ex-wife testified about the nature of Covington’s bipolar rages.
Seroquel and Depakote are drugs usually prescribed when less powerful bipolar medicines are not working. According to the pharmacologist, Covington had stopped taking the drugs for about two months after losing his medical coverage. He was able to obtain a temporary supply about two weeks before the murders. The pharmacologist testified that two weeks was not long enough to sufficiently take effect.
His ex-wife testified that Covington was not violent when he medicated but got violent if he skipped dosages and used cocaine. Covington had cocaine as well as the prescription drugs in his system after his arrest.
Frieberg and her children were allegedly choked, beaten, stabbed and dismembered. The hearing will continue in September. No trial date has been set.
The State will seek the death penalty if Covington is convicted. Covington’s defense attorneys have not filed anything indicating an intention to rely on the insanity defense at trial. It is believed that they will argue that Covington’s mental illness and lack of appropriate medication altered his mental state such that premeditation was possible. If they are successful in such a defense, Covington will potentially face punishment for a lesser-included homicide charge such as second-degree murder. Capital punishment is not an available penalty for any homicide less than first-degree murder.
Covington reportedly has a history of mental illness dating back over 20 years.