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Cherokee County woman sentenced to life in prison for 2017 Covington murder
Rita Dugar
Rita Dugar - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — A Cherokee County woman was sentenced to life in prison after her Wednesday conviction on charges from the 2017 shooting murder of a man in Covington.

Rita Mary Dugar, 30, of Canton, was convicted in Newton County Superior Court on one count of Felony Murder in the Feb. 28, 2017, shooting death of Jon Trevor Townley, 24, outside a Newton County residence. 

A press release at the time stated that Newton County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a person shot at 105 Sunflower Lane in Covington around 2 a.m. They found Townley in the front yard bleeding from an apparent gunshot wound. 

He was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead, the release stated.

The victim was reportedly involved in an argument with another male on the scene before Dugar fired a shot in the direction of the victim. She was reportedly arrested at the scene without incident, the release stated. 

District Attorney Randy McGinley said evidence presented at the trial showed that Dugar came outside with two others, Aubrey Shane Dobbs and Juandrago Carter, before the incident occurred.

Dobbs then confronted Sarah Smith and Townley, who were in Dobbs’ vehicle, because Smith had not returned in the vehicle at the time Dobbs had told her to do so, McGinley said. 

Townley and Smith then got out of the vehicle in the driveway. At that time, statements made by Dugar on a deputy’s body camera and testimony showed that Townley was running away from the vehicle and was in the front yard when Dugar shot him, McGinley said.

Superior Court Judge Cheveda McCamy presided over the bench trial — which is a trial in front of only a judge rather than a jury. McCamy also presided over the sentencing.

Dugar was convicted of Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. McCamy sentenced her to life in prison.

McGinley and Senior Assistant District Attorney Bailey Wilkinson prosecuted the case with assistance from Investigator Jill Lumpkin, Victim Advocate Cindy Hooper, and Legal Assistant Desiree Kozikowski.

Newton County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. Expert witnesses from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also participated in the trial, McGinley said.

McGinley said he was, “So proud of the DA’s Office team in working to get justice for Trevor Townley.”

“Great work by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office in their work in the investigation and arrest,” he said in a posting on Facebook. 

He said the trial was the first bench trial since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 in Newton County. 

“We have had numerous small hearings with a small number of witnesses. However, this trial included 12 total witnesses between the state and the defense, as well as numerous exhibits,” McGinley said. 

He said all parties in the case, as well as court personnel and bailiffs, wore masks. Witnesses, while testifying, wore clear masks or face shields. 

Bailiffs sanitized the witness stand in between each witness and the entire courtroom each day, he said. 

“We are striving every day to ensure that we continue to effectively, efficiently and safely (handle) cases in court,” McGinley wrote.

Trevor Townley
Trevor Townley - photo by Special to The Covington News