Fenner case-Predictably Unpredictable, Trials Moved to Buncombe County

Rccatalyst.com reported earlier this week concerning the hearing held on Monday, September 11, 2017. Judge Marvin pope allowed Robert Denton to withdraw as counsel for Adam Bartley. Public defender, Brian Oglesby was assigned to represent Bartley. Also, Judge Pope requested a hearing which was held today to rule on the Motion for Change of Venue for the defendants in the ongoing saga – the Matthew Fenner case.

This case stems from incidents on January 27, 2013 in which Fenner alleges he was beaten and strangled during a blasting deliverance prayer session inside the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) sanctuary. Five indictments against former and present members have been the subject of a rolling sea of pretrial motions, appeals, a disqualification of counsel and a mistrial. The mistrial occurred this past June in the trial of Brooke Covington. Presiding Judge Gavenous placed a gag order which still impedes the investigation into the mechanics on how unauthorized documents were delivered into the jury room and subsequently lead to the declaration of a mistrial. The jury foreman spent 30 days in jail and was fined $500 for the conduct.

The list of defendants includes Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. The charges include first degree assault and second degree kidnapping for all, as well as the charge of inflicting injury by strangulation against Sarah Anderson.

Today’s hearing was short and to the point. I learned that Judge Pope requested Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers to draw up and order which moves four of the cases to Buncombe County. Brooke Covington’s case was not moved at this time, though her counsel, David Teddy was in court today. Byers will coordinate with the District Attorney’s office in Buncombe County to obtain court dates. Judge Pope was very deliberate and forthright after hearing statements from a few of the counselors in this case.

There are several advantages to moving the trials. Judge Pope will preside over the session in December. There is a larger jury pool with theoretically a more diverse perspective. In my opinion, moving the trial will not hinder local, state, national or international coverage of this saga. Considering the correlating investigations and plot lines already unearthed by the Associated Press since February, the attention will be magnified regardless of the location of the trials. You can count on it.

In other news surrounding the WOFF drama, President Trump nominated District Attorney for Mecklenburg County, Andrew Murray, for the U.S. Attorney position in Western North Carolina. Upon Senate confirmation, he could assume the post immediately. The future of Jill Rose having served as acting U.S. Attorney since October 2015 is unclear. We would hope in order to continue the consistency of the ongoing investigation that she would stay on as an assistant. This remains to be seen.

The entire scene surrounding WOFF has been and remains predictably unpredictable. Jane Whaley was in court today and escorted from the grounds by Attorney Mark Morris. Adam Bartley with his shaved head and nice suit was escorted from the courthouse by prison ministry ministers and faithful WOFF-operatives, DeWitt and Andra Prince. Just how much Bartley has been readmitted into the WOFF sub-culture is not known. For now, he appears very “Woffy”.

Could there be a December to remember for former members of WOFF? Will there be more drama surrounding WOFF practices before the end of year? It is predictably unpredictable, agree?

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(Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation ) This is post number 616.

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