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Let out of prison early during pandemic, accused Raleigh peeper mistakenly released again

Posted November 19, 2020 10:31 a.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2020 9:14 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh man who was let out of state prison in September because of the pandemic was back behind bars Thursday night after being charged in a peeping incident near the North Carolina State University campus.

Anthony Ray Covington, 54, was arrested Wednesday on charges of peeping into a room occupied by another and indecent exposure.

There was no communication between state and local authorities that he needed to be held, however, so he was released on a $3,000 bond. Authorities apprehended him Thursday night.

According to arrest warrants and police, Covington was caught on doorbell video peeping inside a residence in the 2600 block of Clark Avenue on Nov. 9. Two days later, he is accused of exposing himself about a half-mile away, in the 200 block of Chamberlain Street.

Five female N.C. State students live in the house where the alleged peeping occurred, and another female student said the alleged flashing occurred in front of her home.

The news was unsettling to other students who live nearby.

"It definitely scares me, for sure. All of our neighbors are college students. My younger sister lives down the road," Sophie Wingfield said. "I'm always thinking about my window. ... My window faces the street. Should I even have my curtains open at all throughout the day? You don't want to make yourself a target."

Covington was convicted in February 2018 of breaking and entering into vehicles and being a habitual felon and was supposed to be released next April, according to state Department of Public Safety records. But he was released from custody on Sept. 29 as part of the Extended Limits of Confinement program, records show.

The ELC program is designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus in state prisons by transferring non-violent inmates near the end of their sentences, especially if they are pregnant or have underlying health conditions, to their communities to finish their sentences. About 700 of the 30,000 inmates in the state prison system have been let out under ELC.

"The main goal of the program, first and foremost, is to reduce the prison population because, as we know, trying to manage and mitigate the spread of coronavirus in a congregate living setting is very challenging," said Tracy Little, deputy secretary of adult correction.

Covington, who had been living in a halfway house in east Raleigh and working as a cook at a local seafood market since September, isn't the only ELC participant to run into trouble. DPS officials said 26 were later rearrested on new charges, and 31 violated program rules and were returned to prison.

"The fact that the number who have re-offended is so low is a testament to that process, in addition to the fact that they are supervised in the community by one of our community corrections officers," Little said.

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