3-time convicted felon back in state custody for violations

Thursday, June 25, 2020
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(DOC photo) Stephen Ray Covington 

A 3-time convicted felon was sent back into state custody last week for repeatedly violating the terms of his probation.

Stephen Ray Covington, 32, appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court via video last week and was given a 2-year sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) for probation violations. Namely, Covington was terminated from the STEER treatment court in Yellowstone County. (STEER stands for Sobriety, Treatment, Education, Excellence and Rehabilitation).

That was the amount of time Covington has remaining on a 5-year sentence handed down in 2016 in a felony family member/partner assault sentence. He was given credit for 157 days in jail that he’s served since his Feb. 2, 2020, arrest on the violations. Defense attorney Gregory

Defense attorney Gregory Paskell had lobbied for a 2-year suspended sentence, while Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde and Covington’s state probation officer asked for a straight 2-year commitment.

Before the sentence was handed down, Covington asked Judge Matt Wald to give him another chance, saying he was about to become a father. Wald said fatherhood was a “really good reason to change,” but said Covington has some work to do first.

“You don’t want him to be dressed like you, do you?” asked Wald, referring to Covington’s jail clothing.

Wald said the sentence provided rehabilitation options for Covington, accountability and community safety.

Covington’s criminal history includes two felony family/ partner family assaults and one felony DUI in Stillwater and Yellowstone counties, according to the DOC.

Covington had been released from the DOC just six months prior to being terminated from the STEER program.

THE ORIGINAL CASE

In May 2016, law enforcement was called to a domestic disturbance-in-progress near B Street in Columbus. The victim told deputies that she had come home and confronted Covington about drinking all day because he was not supposed to be consuming any alcohol as part of release conditions under a DUI charge in Yellowstone County.

The couple began to argue and when the victim tried to leave, Covington grabbed her wrist and struck her twice in the face and once in the stomach, resulting in redness and swelling, according to court documents. There were also red marks and a scratch on the victim’s wrist.

When interviewed by Columbus police, Covington admitted to grabbing his wife’s wrist but said “he did not think he had struck her in the face,” according to court documents.

Police noted that Covington appeared to be intoxicated and had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to court documents.

A neighbor told police that he had heard the couple arguing and actually gotten between them in an attempt to stop the physical altercation, according to court documents.