Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
“If you’ve got ’em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
– Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States.
I should have known something was up. I came home from work one day and my wife met me at the door. “Somebody broke into Curtescine’s house and tried to rape her.” Curtescine Lloyd was one of the nurses on the oncology floor at the hospital. Curtescine lived in Edwards MS, a small bedroom community just a few miles west of where we lived.
Shocked, I asked if there was any word on whether she was hurt, and did we need to go to the hospital. My wife responded, “Not exactly.”
That isn’t the sort of response one expects in a situation like that, but I was so shocked and upset, I missed the nuance of her reply. Before we get to the rest of the story, let me tell you a bit about my wife and about Curtescine Lloyd. My wife was a Registered Nurse, was a Head Nurse and part time house supervisor at a large hospital in Mississippi. When she started work at the hospital, they did not have an oncology (cancer) unit. Cancer patients had to be sent to another hospital, or were scattered around the hospital on different units.
When we lived in St. Louis, she was assigned to her hospital’s oncology unit. She didn’t know much about cancer patients or cancer treatments when she started, but was a quick study and over time became a specialist in oncology nursing services. After I finished graduate school, we moved to Mississippi where I went to work for the State Department of Health. My wife had no intention of hanging up her nurse’s cap. She got her Mississippi license and went to work.
Within two months of joining the nursing staff of one of the largest hospitals in Mississippi, she was promoted to Head Nurse in charge of a busy medical-surgical unit. That went along smoothly for several years. Her floor was where all the doctors wanted their patients if a bed was available. Yet, she was not happy with the treatment cancer patients were getting at the time. She approached management and informed (not asked—you would have to know my wife to understand fully) the hospital administrator that she was converting her med-surg floor to an oncology unit.
Cancer nurses are a special lot. They have to be compassionate and caring, but also very tough. Cancer is a terrible disease, and treatments often go on for months, sometimes years. Because of the length of time patients are on the unit, staff gets to know the patients and their extended families. They become attached to many of the patients, but many of the patients do not survive. Not just any nurse or doctor can handle oncology work; they need a special kind of tough mindedness. Knowing what she needed to staff a cancer unit, my wife scoured the hospital like a professional headhunter. She convinced some of the best nurses in the hospital to come work for her. Curtescine Lloyd was one of those nurses. Ms. Lloyd was a middle-aged black lady. Very dignified, strong faith in God and a Sunday school teacher. She is one of those people who ooze compassion and empathy. One of the most beloved nurses at the hospital. However, when talking to a professional oncology nurse, don’t let the kind and gentle exterior fool you. Inside, they have the kind of fortitude a Marine Sergeant Major would envy. A thug named Dwight Coverson was about to find that out.
Curtescine was at her home in Edwards, and had just dozed off to sleep around midnight when Mr. Dwight Coverson appeared in her bedroom and proceeded to disrobe. While removing his clothing, he starts telling her what he is going to do to her in rather graphic terms. Once naked, he climbs into her bed and wants her to perform certain sex acts on him. Unexpectedly for him, our sweet Sunday school teacher nurse suddenly morphs into The Hulk.
As she later explained it to me, “He stuck that thing in my face, and it sticking straight out. So I grabbed it with my right hand and twisted as hard as I could. Then I noticed them things hanging down, and grabbed them with my left hand and squeezed as hard as I could, and twisted them the opposite direction.”
Needless to say, by this time Curtescine had the man’s undivided attention. He started screaming that she was hurting him. Since I don’t want to break WordPress, I can’t put it down exactly as she said it. Let’s just say our compassionate nurse was suddenly not at all compassionate, informing him that since he was going to hurt her, she was not at all impressed by his entreaties. At the bottom of this story is a the court reporter’s actual audiotape. You can hear her explain what happened in her own voice.
Curtescine dragged the would-be rapist to the front door by his unmentionables. Curtescine was not about to let go or let up. She made him unlock the front door, which had two deadbolt locks. Complicating his task was the fact he kept falling to the floor, screaming in pain. Curtescine kept hauling him to his feet, using the…handles…on which she had a death grip. Not only a grip, but she continued to both squeeze and twist. After he finally got the two deadbolts unlocked, his problems were not over. She coolly informed him he still needed to unlock the screen door. By this time he is pleading with her to call the police. She told him she was not an idiot, that she would have to let go of him to use the phone, giving him an extra twist to make her point. He wanted to go straight off the porch, but she dragged him the full length of the porch to the far end. As she finally released her grip on him, she informed him she was going inside to get her gun so she could come back and shoot him. By this time, he was a True Believer. Whatever she said she was going to do, he was convinced she would do it. She did hurry back inside to get her aunt’s pistol. Returning to the porch, she fired two shots in the direction she last saw him running. Keep in mind that he was wearing only his socks as he fled from her house. I am not sure “running” is the right word. He seems to have been departing as fast as he could manage while hunched over.
When the Sheriff’s department arrived, investigators found the would-be rapist had been wearing monogrammed clothes. His name was sewn into his clothing, a detail that simplified the manhunt a great deal. When Deputy Sheriff Dennis Moulder went to his residence to arrest him, 29 year old Dwight Coverson was still writhing in pain, expressing doubt that he would ever be able to have children.
The trial attracted considerable media attention. The courtroom was packed when Curtescine Lloyd testified. On the court reporter’s tape, you can hear muffled giggles. The prosecutor was Bobby DeLaughter, who also prosecuted Byron De La Beckwith, the man who assassinated Medgar Evers. Bobby was played brilliantly by Alec Baldwin in the movie Ghosts of Mississippi. George Luter, Coverson’s defense attorney, had virtually nothing to work with as a defense. I felt sorry for George.
The jury was out exactly seven minutes before returning a guilty verdict. It wouldn’t have taken that long, but two of the jurors had to go to the bathroom. Dwight Coverson was sentenced to twenty-five years. In 1993, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dwight Coverson as an inmate. There is no way the history of his crime could be kept secret from the other inmates.
Coverson is out of prison now, and according to the sex offender registry, has been living in Chicago. He was rearrested in Cook County, Il several times in the past year. Most of the arrests are for failure to notify the sex offender registry of changes of address. The mug shot above is from Cook County, Illinois in 2011. The original 1990 mug shot from Hinds County is not available.
This link takes you to the opinion of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Coverson v. Mississippi, 617 So. 2d 642 (1993)
The opinion includes Ms. Lloyd’s testimony verbatim. I know what happened, since I knew all the Justices, some of whom have a wicked sense of humor. They couldn’t resist quoting that section of trial transcript in the opinion so it would be preserved forever in Southern Second.
A local radio station got a copy of the court reporter’s tape. This was broadcast the day after the Mississippi Supreme Court decision was handed down. They had to bleep it a bit, but you can hear what she said in court.