By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Alleged murderer waives arraignment for May motel incident in Covington
Horace Johnson Judicial Center.jpg
The Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Center in downtown Covington. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — An accused murderer waived his arraignment Tuesday, Nov. 10, on charges related to a May shooting at a Covington motel that left a man dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Terry Yates, 30, was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Newton County Superior Court on charges connected to a May 27 shooting at Super 8 motel on Alcovy Road at I-20 that left Nijee Anderson, 31, dead.

Yates is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm, and tampering with evidence

The waiver meant he was pleading “not guilty” to the charges and will be awaiting trial.

Yates has remained behind bars since his arrest. Superior Court Judge John Ott denied a motion to set bond for him during a June 25 hearing.

Prosecutors asked Ott to deny bond because Yates had allegedly intimidated witnesses into lying to protect him and was a risk for fleeing the area to avoid prosecution if released.

They also told Ott that Yates is a self-proclaimed gang member and had told others he was a member of a well-known area gang that could provide money to allow him to flee the area.

Police investigators determined the suspect had been drinking and smoking marijuana with others in a room at the motel the night of May 27.

He allegedly went to his truck, retrieved a handgun, shot the victim in the temple, grabbed the gun and got in his truck, Ott was told. 

Police reportedly found the weapon used in the incident in a field next to Rocky Plains Road south of Covington.

When officers interviewed witnesses, they first told them Anderson had shot himself in the head but later said they were scared of Yates — who had told them to give that false information to police.

The suspect told investigators the shooting was an accident. He said he was walking by Anderson when the victim grabbed the gun. It went off and shot the victim in the head, prosecutors said. 

Ott’s ruling came over the objections of Yates’ attorney, Mario Ninfo, who said his client had never been arrested before the incident.

Ninfo said Yates is a native of Covington, and needed to be granted bond because he had a wife and minor child at home. 

He also suffered from bipolar disorder, among other mental illnesses, which led to him being placed on suicide watch while in jail, the attorney said.

Ninfo said he did not believe there was intent to kill Anderson because all those attending a motel room party had guns and multiple people in the room were handling the firearms without regard to safety.