Man accused in murder of Carter Co. 3-year-old makes court appearance

Demetrius Covington in court on April 6, 2017. (Source: WJHL)

CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A man accused of killing a 3-year-old in Carter County in November 2016 was appointed a public defender in Criminal Court on Thursday morning.

Demetrius Covington, Ja’Kari Phillips

Demetrius Covington was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his stepson, Ja’kari Phillips. Court documents show the child suffered brain swelling, stomach injuries and bruises.

Investigators said Covington ran after leaving the boy with his mother, Ayonjaleea Phillips. Officers arrested him in Ohio.

Ayonjaleea Phillips was arrested by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office on a warrant charging her with Aggravated Child Endangerment. (Source: Carter County Sheriff’s Office)

Covington appeared Thursday in Criminal Court, where he was declared indigent and given a public defender.

His new attorney said he would ask the court to set a bond at Covington’s next hearing, which was scheduled for May 31.

The mother of a 3 year old Ja’kari Phillips, who died in November, 2016, made her first appearance in criminal court this morning.

Ayonjaleea Phillips appeared in Carter Co. Criminal Court to answer charges of aggravated child neglect. She was declared indigent, but since the public defender’s office is already representing her co-defendant Demetrious Covington, it would be a conflict for them to also represent her. Judge Stacy Street appointed attorney Scott Shultz to represent her.

She waived the reading of the charges and plead not guilty. Her next appearance will be on May 31 cat 9 am.

She already had a bond set at $100,000.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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