Brazos County jurors on Wednesday heard from the ex-wife of a former Madisonville police sergeant on trial for allegedly planting methamphetamine on the woman he twice married.
Jeffrey Covington’s ex-wife testified that when she was arrested in November 2011 after a Texas DPS trooper pulled her over and found drugs in a magnetic key holder under her vehicle, she immediately suspected Covington was somehow responsible.
“Is this because of my ex-husband?” Laura Covington could be heard asking the trooper in a video of her arrest played for jurors on the second day of Jeff Covington’s trial. The pair was first married in 2004, then legally separated and remarried before being divorced for a second time in December 2010.
The defendant was indicted in February 2013 on felony charges of delivery of a controlled substance, obstruction or retaliation and official oppression, and is accused of working with another former Madisonville officer, Justin Barham, to have a police informant plant drugs on Laura Covington.
The trial was moved to Brazos County based on change of venue requests from the state and the defense granted by Judge Donald Kraemer of the 12th District Court.
As the result of her arrest, Laura Covington said her two older children were taken away from her for more than a month after Jeff Covington, their father, informed a judge she was arrested and requested temporary custody. At the time, she said, she was about seven months pregnant with her third child whom the defendant is not the father of.
The drug possession charge against Laura Covington was dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
Through their questioning, prosecutors have asserted that Jeff Covington’s motive in planting the drugs was to gain custody of the couple’s two children, whom Laura Covington said rarely saw their father even though he had visitation rights. In November 2012, he voluntarily terminated his parental rights, stating that he believed it was in “the best interest of the children,” according to court documents presented during the trial.
Based on evidence from the state, including testimony from Covington’s OB-GYN, Laura Covington did not use drugs during her pregnancy, though she did admit on cross-examination to using methamphetamine on a regular basis in 2010.
Assistant attorney generals David Glickler and Jonathan White, who were appointed to prosecute the case after Madison County District Attorney Brian Risinger recused his office, rested their case late in the day. Bryan-based attorney Jim James will begin presenting the defense’s case Thursday morning.
In addition to Laura Covington, state attorneys called on several Madisonville police informants, including Jeremy Kidd, who testified on Tuesday that he’d planted the drugs on Laura Covington’s car after being asked to by Barham.
Another state witness, James Richards, told jurors he was approached about being an informant after being arrested in summer 2011 for violating his probation terms and not long afterward had a phone conversation with Jeff Covington in which the defendant implied he wanted Richards’ help in setting up his ex-wife.
DPS Trooper Carl Clary, who arrested Laura Covington after finding the drugs under her pickup, was one of several law enforcement officers who testified for the state that Jeff Covington had mentioned he believed his ex-wife was driving with drugs on her and encouraged them to stop and search her.
Clary said Jeff Covington suggested that, if the trooper were to get consent to search her, he look under her vehicle.
While cross-examining law enforcement officers, James pointed out that it was not unusual for police to tip off other officers if they believe someone to be “riding dirty” and that Laura Covington was not the only individual his client had mentioned that might be carrying drugs.
The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the 272nd District Courtroom.