An East Williamsburg man faces 25 years to life in prison for allegedly assaulting seven women, including five at the Morgan Avenue L train station, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Wednesday.
Kings County’s top prosecutor charged 29-year-old Khari Covington with a 52-count indictment including a list of felony hate crimes against the victims he allegedly targeted for being light-skinned women, the suspect told investigators.
“This defendant’s alleged violent and unprovoked attacks endangered the women he targeted and caused widespread fear in the community,” Gonzalez said in a statement Feb. 24. “I am committed to prosecuting all hate crimes where victims, including as alleged in this case, are targeted because of their gender, skin color or race.”
The defendant’s charges include burglary, strangulation, assault, and menacing, all of which were bumped up as hate crimes, according to the DA’s office.
Covington started his alleged six-month spree by assaulting a woman on Morgan Avenue near Rock Street on Aug. 5, before ambushing five different victims at the nearby Morgan Avenue L-train station between Nov. 17 and Jan. 2.
On Jan. 4 he also allegedly attacked a woman behind the counter of a smoke shop on nearby Wilson Avenue at the corner of Noll Street, an incident which was caught on the store’s surveillance camera.
One of the victims, Bianca Fortis, posted a warning on social media bringing more attention to the pattern of assaults at the North Brooklyn underground station after her attacker pummeled her from behind in late December, the New York Times reported.
Fortis and other victims criticized the Police Department for not posting warnings at the station sooner and failing to recognize a pattern of assault by Covington, who has a history of violence dating back seven years.
Covington, who lives at a nearby supportive housing center for the formerly homeless, was previously locked up for robbing a deliveryman in 2013 and a woman in 2015, but was released on parole last April.
He was again arrested in September for an alleged misdemeanor assault of hitting his ex-girlfriend in the face, but officials did not jail him for violating parole because witnesses were not available for a required hearing, according to the Times report.
The defendant was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun Wednesday and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
His bail was set at $150,000 and he remains detained at Rikers Island until his next court date on April 13, according to Gonzalez’s spokesman Oren Yaniv.