Man accused of killing 3-year-old stepson appears in Carter County court; Requests bond

Demetrius Covington, Ja'Kari Phillips

CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Demetrius Covington, the man accused of killing his 3-year-old stepson, appeared in a Carter County courtroom this morning.

Covington was granted a court appointed attorney. A bond request by his attorney is now being considered by the judge. The judge is expected to rule on that decision at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Covington’s next court appearance is January 13.

Cater County deputies traveled to Dayton, OH last week to arrest Covington. Investigators said he ran from Elizabethton when his stepson, 3-year-old Ja’Kari Phillips, was rushed to the hospital in late November. A few days later, the Ja’Kari died.

Covington is charged with first-degree murder.

Court documents show Ja’Kari had stomach injuries, scrapes and bruises as well as brain swelling.

“Our baby is gone forever. we will never get to hold him again,” Hopkins said.

Ja’Kari’s grandmother Lajonya Hopkins was at today’s court proceedings. Covington was given an attorney by the court and his preliminary hearing was set.

While Covington’s case was being heard a false fire alarm went off, forcing everyone to evacuate the courtoom immediately but not before hopkins had a chance to express how she felt by yelling in the courtroom “Justice for Ja’Kari”

Overcome with emotion, Hopkins spoke with me outside the Carter county courthouse about her grandson Ja’Kari.

“You could have a bad day and when he laughed, that is all it took to bring a smile to anybody’s face, to anybody’s face,” Lajonya Hopkins said.

A face that hopkins says will never be forgotten.

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