Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge warns prosecutors, law enforcement in Lutz case

TAMPA — Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee told reporters it was the most horrific crime scene he had ever seen, with victims mutilated, dismembered and, in one case, decapitated.

His second-in-command said the suspect told how he did it.

The statements describe what officers said Edward Covington did to a mother, her son and a daughter on Mother's Day in Lutz. Covington's lawyer thinks such comments could ruin his client's chances for a fair trial.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Manuel Lopez agreed, ruling in the defense's favor on Friday, strongly reminding prosecutors and law enforcement to refrain from making such statements. He also gave the defense first crack at screening investigative materials before the public and news media can see them.

The ruling is rare but happens in high-profile cases. A judge took similar action in the case of David Onstott, accused of killing 13-year-old Sarah Lunde of Ruskin.

It also happened in the Valessa Robinson case, in which she and her boyfriend were convicted of killing Robinson's mother in 1998.

In Covington's case, Lopez gave public defender Charles Traina 30 days to screen evidence and reports so he can object to anything that could be released publicly.

Such material is generally known as "discovery," which a prosecutor is required to turn over to the defense and public.

In this case, the judge can rule on objections and keep items from public and media view until a jury has been picked. Anything else will be released immediately.

Reached afterward, St. Petersburg Times attorney Alison Steele didn't object to Lopez's ruling, saying he acted in an appropriate manner because the records aren't being withheld.

Justin George can be reached at jgeorge@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3368.

Judge warns prosecutors, law enforcement in Lutz case 06/20/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 21, 2008 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims

    Accidents

    DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

    A close-up of a flowering marijuana plant in the production room of Modern Health Concepts' greenhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. [C.M. Guerrero | Miami Herald/TNS]
  2. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs

    Blogs

    A black state legislator says he was called a "nigger" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  3. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]
  4. Pasco fire station reopens after hundreds of bats forced crews out

    Human Interest

    Fire crews have returned to a Hudson fire station nearly two weeks after they were forced out by possibly thousands of bats.

    Fire crews returned to Station 39 in Hudson on June 21, 2017, nearly twoo weeks after the building was closed due to a rat infestation. [Times files]
  5. Church of England head says it 'colluded with' sex abuse

    Religion

    LONDON — The Church of England "colluded" with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday.