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Mom accused of murder had previous problems

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A 25-year-old woman, accused of smothering her infant to death, previously pleaded guilty to failing to provide proper parental care.

Veronica Coverson, mother of five, was sentenced to probation and community service in 2004. According to Clayton County court documents, Coverson had left two small children alone in an apartment. When social services and police responded to a call from a neighbor, they found the apartment in a horrible condition, and arrested the then-21-year-old mother.

"The home had clothes thrown around," wrote Clayton County Police Officer Michael Palmer, in an arrest warrant application. "[There were] diapers with feces in them on the floor of the bedrooms, the house smelled of urine, pots and pans were unclean with dried food in them, and the children's beds had no linen."

Coverson, who has lived in Union City, Jonesboro and College Park, pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in State Court in 2004. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail for failure to report to her probation officer in January 2006.

Her youngest daughter was born on Jan. 12, 2006. The baby girl died 19 months later, on Aug. 26.

When police arrived, the girl was unconscious and wasn't breathing. She was on the apartment floor in a yellow T-shirt and underwear, "lying face-up," according to Clayton County Detective William Clendenen, who filed an arrest warrant application late last month, a year after the alleged murder. When police first saw her, the girl was "having CPR administered to her by a black male identified as her father."

The girl's mother, Coverson, said the infant drowned in the bathtub while she was out of the room, getting a towel. Coverson reportedly told police she dressed the dying girl while CPR was performed, a claim detectives found suspicious and listed with other "inconsistencies" in the mother's story.

Inconsistencies, raising suspicion, included: The girl's hair wasn't wet and she didn't smell like soap; the bathtub was drained and dirty; the "father" gave two different names and dates of birth.

The girl also had untreated injuries, and some old injuries which would be very serious wounds, for one so young. According to court documents, the child had an infection on her buttocks and genital area, she had an untreated burn on her leg, and her ribs had been broken and healed over. Recent injuries, at the time of the 19-month-old's death, included bleeding from the forehead and spinal cord, "skeletal trauma," brain swelling, and cuts and scratches around her lips and tongue, described by the police as "defensive wounds."

According to the arrest warrant, which made no mention of the previous criminal conviction, "the autopsy revealed a pattern of neglect."

Coverson is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 12, for a probable cause hearing. She is facing charges of murder, aggravated assault and cruelty to children, and faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.