Guilty verdict for EMT assault

Published 9:33 pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bob Covey Sr., Bobby Covey Jr.

Bob Covey Sr., Bobby Covey Jr.


A Beaufort County jury found a father and son guilty of assaulting an emergency medical technician who responded to a 911 call.

The jury deliberated for just over an hour on Thursday before returning a guilty verdict for Bobby Covey Jr. and Bob Covey Sr., for the assault on James Rosene, the Pinetown volunteer EMT who was first responder at the Coveys’ Five Points Farm Lane residence on Christmas Eve 2011. Covey Sr. was also given a guilty verdict for communicating threats to Rosene during the altercation that led to a bruised and bloodied Rosene being forcibly removed from the patient he was attempting to stabilize in preparation for the ambulance’s arrival.

According to court testimony, during a second incident moments after the assault on Rosene, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Thomas Salinas, Investigator Jeremy Landeck and both Coveys suffered physical injury as the deputies attempted to break up a struggle between father and son. The jury found Covey Sr. not guilty of assaulting a public officer causing physical injury. Covey Jr. was not charged with assaulting the officers.

Thursday saw the testimony of Covey Sr., Covey Jr., his wife Michelle Covey and his brother, Stephen Covey, the man whose back injury spurred the 911 call.

Testimony conflicted over the course of the two-day trial. On the witness stand, Rosene described being attacked when he refused to abandon the patient he was assessing — an act that could result in revocation of EMT certification. Covey Sr. testified that he escorted Rosene to his truck once the limited treatment the EMT could offer was realized, but on the way, Rosene was injured when the two men fell in the gravel drive.

When sheriff’s office deputies responded to the report of the assault on the EMT, the situation became chaotic, according to witnesses.

Salinas testified it was Covey Sr., not Covey Jr., who immediately acted with aggression towards him, and ultimately hit and kicked both Salinas and Landeck during the ensuing struggle. However, Landeck told the jury that when Covey Jr. said he was going to “choke out” his father and got his father in a chokehold, “I took that to mean he was going to cause him bodily harm and needed to keep them separated.”

Covey Jr. told the jury that he was simply trying to keep his father contained.

“I was scared of what he was going to do. At that point I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he said. “I was trying to keep Dad down on the ground and throwing my hands up trying to block blows.”

“If (Covey Jr.) had not been choking his father and compliant to our commands, no, I would not have tased him,” Salinas said in response to Assistant District Attorney Mike Holloman’s questions about how the situation could have worked out.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Jeff Foster, told the jury that there was no evidence whatsoever implicating Covey Jr. had attacked Rosene or resisted law enforcement. Instead, his client had tried to help the deputies by detaining his father, he said.

Mark Ward, Covey Sr.’s defense attorney, argued that the definition of assault is the use of intentional force and none of the injuries inflicted on Rosene, Salinas or Landeck during the chaotic incident were intentional.

The jury agreed that Covey Sr. had not purposefully injured the sheriff’s office deputies, but both men were convicted of assaulting Rosene — either by actual physical force or by not doing anything to stop the assault.

During sentencing, Rosene addressed Superior Court Judge Russell Duke Jr., saying, “The beating I took, I can take that, I’m a grown man, but what this has done to my family, that’s more than I can take.”

Covey Jr. addressed Rosene directly when asked by Duke if he had anything to say. He apologized to Rosene for his role in any trauma he caused him and his family.

Duke sentenced Covey Sr. to serve 45 days in jail and issued two suspended sentences of 45 days, and six to 17 months in a Department of Adult Corrections prison. Covey Sr. was also ordered to pay court costs, $3,419 in restitution to Rosene and was hit with a $5,000 fine.

When addressing Covey Jr., Duke described the purpose of incarceration: to rehabilitate, as punishment and as a way to deter others from committing the same crime.

“We live in a civil society where we depend on a lot of people to live peaceful and harmonious lives. We depend on volunteers to come to our aid. If that doesn’t happen we are missing an essential element,” Duke said.

“It comes down to deter — I’m going to put you in jail for 11 days,” Duke said to Covey Jr. “That’s to send a message to you and others.”

He was also given a suspended sentence of six to 17 months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Duke specified both men had until 5 p.m. today to pay all associated court costs and fines, or else face serving their respective full sentences.