Alleged Facebook use sends hate crime defendant back to jail
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Using Facebook has again gotten a Chicago woman thrown in jail.
Brittany Covington, 19, was sentenced to probation and released from jail six months ago after pleading guilty to hate crime charges as one of four defendants accused of assaulting a schizophrenic north suburban man.
But her plea deal also included a four-year ban from using social media.
Covington rose to Internet infamy in early 2017 after live-streaming video of co-defendants Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper and her older sister, Tanishia Covington, as they taunted the then 18-year-old, white friend of Hill’s with racially tinged insults.
The video even drew commentary from then-President Barack Obama, among thousands of other more or less outraged responses
Brittany Covington was taken into custody last week after software installed on her cellphone detected someone logging into a Facebook app from the device.
She will likely remain locked up at least another month after Cook County Judge William Hooks ordered prosecutors to find out whether Covington or someone else was using Facebook.
Covington’s lawyer, April Preyar, said someone borrowed Covington’s phone and jumped on a Facebook app that comes pre-loaded onto the device — an explanation Hooks rejected out of hand.
“It doesn’t make sense that she would give up an object that could send her to the penitentiary,” Hooks said.
“This is not going to be a slippery slope situation. When I said no social media, I meant no social media.”
Preyar said the teen, who spent 10 months in jail before reaching the plea deal, has been a model employee at a Chicago bakery since her release from jail in November, and was soon to take the test to get her GED after weeks of taking prep classes after work.
“She is doing so well,” the defense attorney told the judge. “My suggestion to her is, she needs to get a flip-phone, something that doesn’t have the Internet on it.”
Software installed on Covington’s phone showed someone used Facebook for 20 minutes on March 26, less than a minute on March 27, and 10 minutes on March 28, said Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier.
Lanier recommended letting Covington resume her probation without further jail time.
Hooks ordered prosecutors to do a “deeper dive” to find out who was using the phone, and said he expected the woman who purportedly used Covington’s phone to appear in court at a hearing in June.
The only activity on Covington’s Facebook page since her arrest has been postings made by detractors.
Her sister last month reached a plea deal that sent her to prison but would see her released on probation in a matter of weeks.
Hill and Cooper are set to go to trial on hate crime charges this summer.