A Prince George's County judge said yesterday he has offered University of Maryland defensive back Keeta Covington the opportunity to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault and battery charge and have the charge wiped off his record if he pays a fine and spends one night in jail.
However, prosecutors object and want Covington to serve 10 days in jail, then be placed on supervised probation for up to two years.
Judge Vincent Femia is scheduled to hear the case in Upper Marlboro Monday. The charges stem from an incident Aug. 20 at a campus dormitory. Yvockeea Kim Gray, a Maryland student, said in a statement to police that Covington "struck me twice in the face and pushed me to the ground" without provocation in the incident.
Covington has declined comment on the case and yesterday his attorney, Jeffrey Weber, also declined.
Covington, a 5-foot-9, 189-pound junior from Danville, Va., is one of the Terrapins' defensive leaders. Last season he had 50 tackles and led the team with six interceptions.
Although it is not known if Covington will agree to the plea bargain offer, a source at the university said Covington will accept.
Covington recently settled out of court in an unrelated civil damages suit in which Raymond Keppler, a Maryland student, alleged that Covington knocked out three of his teeth in a fracas at the Rendezvous Inn, a bar near campus, Feb. 5, 1985. In making the settlement, in which Covington is believed to have paid $3,500, he did not admit liability.
Two criminal charges also were filed in that incident: one for giving a false report to a police officer and another for assault and battery. The false report charge was dropped, according to Lou Lorscheider, assistant to State's Attorney Arthur Marshall, and the assault charge was placed on "stet docket" and dropped after six months in which Covington committed no further violations.
In the more recent case, Femia said he offered the plea bargain to Covington's attorney, who wanted to be sure his client's record was expunged. Femia said that "requires he spend a night in jail."
"He Covington can do the Club Med thing for a night and learn a lesson about putting your hands where they don't belong," said Femia, who described the alleged incident as, "He Covington was either an invitee or an interloper in a room and played macho man."
Marshall said this isn't his office's first encounter with Covington. "We think he belongs in jail," he said. "We've had him in our system before and he got away for one reason or another."
In Prince George's County, such plea bargains frequently are made strictly between the judge and the defendant, according to the state's attorney's office. Femia said he was unconcerned about Marshall's objection in this case.
"Short of public flayings, a prosecutor is never happy," Femia said. "I try to treat every sucker who comes before me the same. . . . I found out when I was a state's attorney you can't satisfy every irate prosecutor, so I say, hell, I'll try to do what's right."
The expected statement from Maryland Chancellor John Slaughter concerning the athletic department's recently completed review of the women's basketball program was delayed yesterday. A university spokesman said Slaughter had to take up another issue in the morning, then left for a speaking engagement.