ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office reported Tuesday that the victim of a shooting last week has died after being airlifted to a hospital and officials initially reported her condition as “critical but stable.”
Sheriff’s deputies responded Sept. 5 to a report of a gunshot victim on Roberta Drive in Rockingham and found Crystal Gail Decker sitting in the driver’s seat of a gold 1995 Honda Accord that was near the tree line behind a residence. Court documents show that Decker was slumped over and bleeding with what appeared to be a single gunshot wound in or near her face.
Decker was taken to FirstHealth Moore-Regional Hospital and later transferred to McLeod Hospital in Florence, South Carolina. The sheriff’s office reported that Decker succumbed to her injuries on Friday.
This development has elevated the charges against Clemmie Lee Covington, 59, of Pauline Drive in Rockingham. from attempted first-degree murder to murder. Decker was able to identify “Clem Covington” to law enforcement before being taken to the hospital, and deputies arrested Covington at a residence without incident a short time later, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Covington also was charged with attempted murder charge after it was discovered that there was a second person in the car that Covington allegedly shot at. The second person was not injured.
Investigators believe that the incident began as a dispute over a vehicle. Covington and Decker have been in a relationship for a number of years, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Covington is being held at the Richmond County Jail without bond for the murder charge and a $500,000 secured bond for the remaining charges.
Records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety show that Covington’s criminal record dates to 1986 when he was convicted of driving while impaired in Moore County. He was convicted of the same offense three more times over the next three years, and served probation and, later, six months in prison on one of the charges. All of the charges after the initial DWI charge have occurred in Richmond County.
In 1998, he served 10 months in prison for three felony counts of selling a Schedule II controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of DWI.
In 2001, he was convicted of one felony count each of possessing a Schedule II controlled substance and of being a habitual felon, and one misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison.
Covington’s most recent conviction — from May 2016 — was for one felony count each of possession of a firearm by a felon and assault with a deadly weapon, for which he was sentenced to probation.