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1994 killer in Covington has chance for release
Monroe mayor pens letter of opposition
Rhonda Vining
Rhonda Vining - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — A woman who was convicted of the murder of her ex-boyfriend has a chance at getting out of prison.

Rhonda Rene Vining was found guilty of killing Rodney Spence Singleton on Dec. 14, 1994, in Covington.

She pleaded guilty to felony murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Vining is currently serving a life sentence at Arrendale State Prison in northeast Georgia.

Vining was 21 and a student at Emory University when she chased Singleton down and shot him in the upper torso.

Covington police were called to a location in the 5110 block of Emory Street Northwest, where they found Singleton on the ground with gunshot wounds.

Vining was at the home they had shared on Hillside Drive, where their argument had begun. She barricaded herself inside the home and threatened suicide, and at one point set fire to the home.

However, after negotiations with a Covington police sergeant, Vining gave up and exited the home through a window and was arrested.

Singleton later died at Newton General Hospital, now Piedmont Newton Hospital.

Covington News archives show Vining had a record of violent behavior, including a conviction of beating a woman in the face a few years prior to shooting Singleton.

The relationship between Vining and Singleton reportedly was a rocky one, with her allegedly filing a false police report in an attempt to keep him from leaving her.

Vining initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It was revealed she left the home she and Singleton shared and went to her parents’ home in Wray, Georgia, to get a gun and returned to Newton County to confront Singleton.

Testimony at trial indicated bullets recovered at the scene matched those from the gun.

Vining agreed to plead guilty to felony murder in Newton County Superior Court.

In a letter to people with a stake in the case, the Georgia Office of Victim Services gave notice that Vining has been recommended for work release through the state Department of Corrections. That program is a transitional environment prior to release from prison.

Should Vining do well in work release, she could be released to community supervision.

Monroe Mayor John Howard, who was friends with Singelton when both were students at George Walton Academy, has written a letter opposing Vining’s release.

Howard wrote that he opposes release for Vining because the Singleton family and his friends “have been sentenced to life” without him, and the mayor argued their sentence shouldn’t be more than hers.

Howard also said he thinks incarceration isn’t a good gauge of how Vining would act in open society, and that Monroe is close to where Vining lived before the crime.

“I have major concerns about the safety and well-being of our community and its people,” he wrote. “We are moving at light-speed building a successful, safe community, and there is absolutely no way she would ever be welcome in our town.”

People who wish to make a statement on the proposed change in Vining’s status may contact Director Rita Rocker at 800-593-9474 or 404-651-6668, or write