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Lakemper trial to start Monday

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

COVINGTON -- The death penalty trial for Cobey Wade Lakemper is set to begin Monday in Newton County.

Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn will be presiding and District Attorney Layla Zon will be prosecuting. Lakemper will be defended by Joseph Vigneri of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender.

Lakemper, 34, is accused of the armed robbery and murder of hotel clerk Wendy Carter at the Comfort Inn on Ga. Highway 142 in August 2005. Carter died several months after the shooting.

The Newton County offenses occurred only 11 days after he allegedly robbed and killed a North Carolina elderly couple. Joyce Covington, 65, and her husband William Covington, 72, were found shot to death inside their home. North Carolina has charged Lakemper with two counts of first degree murder, one count of breaking and entering, one count of larceny and one count of possession of stolen property in connection with that case.

As North Carolina authorities searched for Lakemper in 2005, he allegedly committed his crimes in Newton County and fled in a Hyundai Santa Fe with a Missouri license plate. Less than a week later, he was arrested in Jackson, Tenn., at a bar by Madison County sheriff's deputies and agents with the U.S. Marshals Service. Lakemper was also wanted by the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole for probation violation and absconding while under probation.

Initially turned over to North Carolina authorities for prosecution, he was extradited in August 2006 to Newton County where then-District Attorney Ken Wynne announced he would seek the death penalty against Lakemper. He has been incarcerated at the Newton County Detention Center, as well as surrounding jurisdiction's facilities, since that time awaiting trial.