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Judge Lockette: Covin not guilty

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- After hearing a judge acquit him of multiple felonies, an Albany man was led back to jail in handcuffs and leg shackles Friday.

In a litany of "not guilty" declarations, Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette cleared Davonta Covin of charges including armed robbery, aggravated assault, street gang terrorism and possession of a firearm during a felony.

Covin faces rape charges lodged by a witness who had testified against him on the crimes for which Lockette acquitted him.

"The woman who is accusing my client of rape has already lied under oath," said defense attorney James Finkelstein. "My client is innocent of rape."

A bail hearing held immediately after Covin was found not guilty was continued to May 25 to give Lockette time to review documents pertaining to Covin's previous time on electronic house arrest.

Lockette obviously could not have believed the alleged rape victim's testimony in the trial that ended Friday. There might be a perception that he held a bias against her testimony in the next case, and that is why he is considering recusing himself from the rape trial, the judge said.

The trail that ended Friday stemmed from a robbery in Sept. 12, 2009. Ronald Rollins pleaded guilty to the robbery. He was sent to prison for 10 years.

A mistrial in the first Covin trial was declared on Feb. 17 because not all investigative testimony was turned over to the defense.

"The State's two eyewitnesses, Linstrati Turner and Shanice Rollins, had lied numerous times to the police investigating the crime," Finkelstein said. "Both Ms. Turner and Ms. Rollins had seen their cousin Ronald Rollins commit the crime and strike Mr. (Kenya) Hosley with a pistol."

Any witnesses at the crime scene could not have seen Covin in the darkness standing behind Hosley's Ford Explorer at the crime scene, 632 Cherry St., Finkelstein said.

In interviews before the trials and on the stand, Rollins and Hosley said that Covin had nothing to do with the robbery, Finkelstein said.

"According to Mr. Hosley, Mr. Covin was innocent and had not participated in the attempted robbery by codefendant Ronald Rollins," Finkelstein said in an e-mail. "Mr. Hosley was also very clear that he never saw Mr. Covin with a weapon and that Mr. Covin's role, if any, was in assisting him in getting out of his vehicle to escape from Mr. Rollins."

As for Covin's membership in a gang, no one has ever proved it, he added.

"All four of the State's witnesses who knew Mr. Covin, who testified on that issue, stated that Mr. Covin had never been a member of a gang," Finkelstien's e-mail continued. "Ronald Rollins stated that he had been drunk and high on drugs when he decided to rob Mr. Holsey. He also testified that he acted alone."

Despite losing this case, the Dougherty Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office plans to press on with the rape case.

"We regret the judge's decision in this case," said Assistant District Attorney Heather Lanier. "We intend to go forward with the rape case."