Mistrial declared in church minister's trial

By  | 

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) - A judge cited a juror's misbehavior and declared a mistrial in the case of a North Carolina church minister accused in the beating of a congregant who says he was attacked to expel his "homosexual demons."

The judge immediately held the juror in contempt on Tuesday and sentenced him to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for bringing in unspecified outside materials.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, had faced up to two years in prison if convicted on charges of kidnapping and assaulting former member Matthew Fenner in January 2013.

The 58-year-old Covington was the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

Fenner, who is now 23, says he was slapped, punched, choked and screamed at for two hours as they tried to expel his "homosexual demons."

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

Several former members of a church whose minister is on trial on charges of beating a gay congregant say they don't recognize a man who was accused of harassing the jury.

Chad Metcalf was brought before Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus in handcuffs Tuesday after he allegedly told jurors they need to reach a verdict in the case. The jury began deliberating Monday and resumed Tuesday.

Metcalf's connection to the case, if any, was not immediately clear. Several former members of the church who were in the courtroom told The Associated Press they didn't know or recognize Metcalf.

Court records show a man by the same name had a court date Tuesday on a charge of driving with a revoked license.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, is accused of leading the 2013 beating to expel Fenner's "homosexual demons."

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

More than four years after Matthew Fenner said he was beaten by members of his North Carolina church for being gay, the fate of one of his ministers is in the hands of a jury.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, is accused of leading the 2013 beating to expel Fenner's "homosexual demons."

Fenner said he was punched, choked and screamed at for two hours in the sanctuary in January 2013.

The jury deliberated for about an hour Monday and will resume deliberating Tuesday.

Prosecutor Garland Byers said Fenner was held against his will and attacked. Defense lawyer David Teddy said Fenner requested the form of prayer.

If convicted, Covington faces two years in prison. Four others will be tried separately.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

The lawyer for a North Carolina minister accused of orchestrating the beating of a gay congregant has ended the defense without calling any witnesses.

It was not immediately clear when the jury would begin deliberating in the case Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina.

The 58-year-old Covington is accused of leading the 2013 beating of former member Matthew Fenner to expel his "homosexual demons."

During closing arguments Monday, defense lawyer David Teddy said Fenner requested the form of prayer delivered by church congregants and knew what was coming.

Prosecutor Garland Byers argued that people should not be assaulted in the name of religion.

Byers said Fenner was held against his will and attacked.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

The lawyer for a North Carolina minister accused of orchestrating the beating of a gay congregant says he may not call any defense witnesses.

Brooke Covington, a 58-year-old longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, is accused of leading the 2013 beating of former member Matthew Fenner to expel his "homosexual demons."

Defense attorney David Teddy told the judge Monday that he did not plan to call any witnesses. But under questioning from the judge, Covington said she needed to discuss with Teddy during a lunch break whether she wanted to testify on her own behalf.

Covington, who pleaded not guilty, is the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)