The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Mental health defense pursued

This is just ridiculous.  Bipolar disorder does not predispose someone to murder innocent children or mutilate them and the family pet.  There is something more going on here, such as cocaine abuse which is certainly being downplayed in this article.  The drugs mentioned here–Tylenol, aspirin, tricyclic antidepressant, and Depakote are not the cause of any abnormal mental state this man may have been in at the time of these murders.

If being under the influence can mitigate whether you intend to commit first-degree or second-degree murder, then this point of law needs to be reexamined.  No one forces a person to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place.  Granted, overuse or extended use creates dependence and cravings, but  nobody is forced to start down that path in the first place.  Somewhere, conscious decisions were made and should have some type of consequence.

This man may well be very sick.  He may have been sick for quite some time.  Did he get any help?  What, besides using cocaine, did he do to help himself?  These are the real questions for me.  And how, exactly, does his illness fit into his claims of no responsibility for murder?

Please read this article and let me know what you think about it.  I know this type of article is becoming more and more prevalent and it really bothers me.  Are we becoming a nation of victims who owe no responsibility for our actions?



Published: February 2, 2010

TAMPA – A man charged with killing and mutilating his girlfriend and her two children should not face the death penalty because he was mentally incapable of intending to commit first-degree murder, his attorneys say.

Lisa Freiberg and her children, Heather Savannah, 2, and Zachary, 7, were found slain inside their Lutz mobile home in 2008. The family dog was also killed.

The deaths were so grisly that investigators could not identify the bodies by looking at them.

Authorities say Edward Covington was found huddled in a closet in the mobile home with blood on his hands, feet and back.

The killings took place between 6 and 11 a.m. May 11, 2008, and it appeared Covington had stayed in the home overnight, investigators say. He told detectives he killed Freiberg and her children, according to court records.

Covington’s public defenders are asking a judge to allow them to present evidence at trial about his mental condition at the time of the killings and his mental health history, which they say dates to when he was 15.

A defense court filing says Covington, 37, does not intend to use an insanity defense, which would be aimed at seeking a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Rather, the defense hopes to persuade jurors to convict Covington of the lesser offense of second-degree murder, making him ineligible for the death penalty.

Covington, his attorneys say, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; a therapist who examined Covington in 2005, when he was working as a state corrections officer, described “classic symptoms of rage and anger, and episodes of severe depression.”

On the morning of May 12, 2008, Covington was admitted to University Community Hospital for a drug overdose. Tests showed he had taken cocaine, acetaminophen and salicylate, another anti-inflammatory drug used for mild to moderate pain, the defense filing states. Doctors also found tricyclics, which is an antidepressant, and valproic acid, a drug used for seizures and migraines.

The defense says a psychiatrist who examined Covington for the case will testify that Covington’s bipolar disorder, combined with the drugs in his system, rendered him mentally incapable of forming the intent to commit first-degree murder.

The charges against Covington include three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of abuse of a dead human body and one count of felony animal cruelty. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Covington is being held without bail.

According to the defense filing, Covington tried to shoot himself in the head and was hospitalized under the state’s Baker Act when he was 16. The next year, he overdosed on drugs.

Reporter Elaine Silvestrini can be reached at (813) 259-7837.

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February 3, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , ,

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