Facebook hate crime defendant wants out of jail with plea deal or bond

SHARE Facebook hate crime defendant wants out of jail with plea deal or bond

Brittany Covington of Chicago; (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago; Jordan Hill of Carpentersville; and Tanishia Covington of Chicago. File Photo. | Chicago Police Department

Defense attorneys want a Cook County judge to allow the release of a woman facing hate crime charges in connection with the Facebook Live video of a white suburban man being beaten and taunted in a West Side apartment more than a year ago.

Despite agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors in January, Tanishia Covington has remained in jail for her alleged role in the attack against the 18-year-old schizophrenic Crystal Lake man.

With her bond now set at $200,000 on several charges, including kidnapping, aggravated assault and committing a hate crime, Covington is stuck behind bars, where her own mental health is deteriorating and she is unable to visit her infant son, who is terminally ill, her lawyer wrote in a motion filed Monday.

“Until she was arrested she visited (her son) regularly – often every day– according to her grandmother and her aunt,” according to a case history filed along with the motion. “Tanishia’s heart aches because she cannot currently visit him and does not know if he will live long enough for her to have another opportunity.”

Video of the abuse – which Covington’s younger sister filmed — became a viral flashpoint in early 2017, just weeks after Donald Trump rode out a contentious, often racially charged campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The image of the victim’s terror-stricken expression as he was hit and threatened by taunts, including “f–k Donald Trump” and “f— white people,” engendered national outrage.

Judge William Hooks has repeatedly put off his approval of the deal that would likely see Covington released on probation.

Covington’s younger sister, Brittany, was released in December after pleading guilty in exchange for a sentence of time served and four years of probation.

A hearing set for Thursday will be Hooks’ latest chance to rule on the plea deal for Tanishia Covington. It remains to be seen whether the judge will be swayed by the litany of personal tragedies laid out in a lengthy psychological evaluation attached to a motion asking the judge to reduce Covington’s bond to an amount that will allow her to be released, if he doesn’t approve the plea deal.

When previously declining to sign off on the deal, Hooks cited concerns over whether the Covingtons would testify against their co-defendants, Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill.

Two months before the incident, Covington’s boyfriend was murdered and her newborn son was diagnosed with a congenital disorder that would likely kill him before his second birthday, the report says.

In jail, Covington, 25, suffers from hallucinations brought on by being isolated from other inmates, who have threatened her because of her internet infamy, lawyer Julie Hull wrote. Days after her arrest, even then President Barack Obama weighed in, calling the video “despicable.”

Hooks last year reduced Covington’s bond to $200,000 in a written order that faulted her being the oldest defendant among the four.

Covington was raised by her heroin-addicted mother and an abusive grandmother. Covington’s first child died of sudden infant death syndrome, and her 5-year-old daughter was taken into state custody in 2015 because of abuse suffered at the hands of a caregiver while Covington was attending GED classes, according to the report.

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