Tag Archives: Garland Byers

Fenner Case Update: Brooke Covington in Court

Monday morning, Brooke Covington made an appearance in Rutherford County court alongside her attorney David Teddy. Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers scheduled the meeting for a judge to rule on five pending motions in the Matthew Fenner assault case. This case stems from charges involving an incident on January 27, 2013 in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).

Brooke Covington is one of five individuals indicted with charges against them ranging from second degree kidnapping, assault and attempting to inflict injury by strangulation. Adam Bartley, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr., Justin Covington and Sarah Anderson are the others who were indicted. The case has been delayed beyond reasoning with pre-trial motions, rulings, and disqualification of the original WOFF attorneys attempting to represent all five defendants. The disqualification was appealed to the NC Court of Appeals and later withdrawn after one of the petitioners in the appeal, Sarah Anderson, left WOFF and requested new representation.

During Monday’s session, five motions were slated for review.
1. The Defendant’s Motion for Change of Venue;
2. The Defendant]s Motion for a Bill of Particulars;
3. The State’s Motion for Jury View & Testimony During Jury View;
4. The State’s Motion for Joinder of Offenses for Trial; and
5. The State’s Motion for the Alternative for a Special Venire.

The State’s Motion for Jury View required a notice sent to Joshua Farmer as he is known as the “general counsel’ for WOFF. However, attorney John W. Gresham was hired to represent WOFF in opposition to the motion. He has represented Jane Whaley in years past and it came as no surprise he was brought in for this hearing.

As ADA Byers gave the judge a recap of the case, he explained that Judge Thomas Davis has recused himself from the proceedings. Byers has originally scheduled the hearing for May 22nd, but rescheduled for April 24th upon learning that Judge Gary Gavenus was not available in May. Attorney Teddy used the rescheduling as a reason to request for further delay stating he was not prepared to argue the Change of Venue with all the recent publicity about WOFF.

At several points, Gresham attempted to interject his views that the Motion for Jury View was unconstitutional and that he was prepared to provide large photographs of the scene. Finally, Judge Gavenus rebuffed Gresham and told him not to worry about the Motion to View at this time.
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Fenner Hearing Reveals Queen(s) for the Day…..

Updated: December 9, 2016 10:31 AM
The Hearing held December 8th in the Fenner case answered some questions and left many still unanswered. By the time I entered Courtroom #2, the discussions of the State’s request for the Honorable Judge Marvin Pope to hear all cases related to the indictments were well under way. The Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) crowd was seated in the back right of the room close to the main entry door. This was not the normal front left position as in previous sessions. The media and others not affiliated with WOFF were sitting on the left side. Of course, I found a seat up about middle left.

Today was yet another small chapter in the ongoing saga of the Matthew Fenner case. Events from January 27, 2013 are in question. Five present and former WOFF members were formally indicted in January 2015. The indictments against Brooke Covington, Justin Covington and Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. who are still members and Adam Bartley and Sarah Anderson, former members; include second degree kidnapping, first degree assault and one count of inflicting injury by attempted strangulation. After initially attempting to represent all five defendants, WOFF attorneys Joshua Farmer, Mark Morris and all their associates were disqualified by Judge Pope in August 2015.

As a result, all five defendants have separate counsel. Brooke Covington is represented by David Teddy. Justin Covington is represented by Krinn Evans. Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. is represented by Matthew Cabe. Sarah Covington is represented by the Cooper Firm. Adam Bartley is represented by Robert Denton who also represents Nicholas Anderson in his civil case for divorce and custody against Sarah. All five defendants and their counsel were present today.

Now, back to the hearing….
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Hearing Set in Matthew Fenner Case –Dec. 8th

Judges chair
Judges chair

Several events have colored this year with surprise and even shock. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the Matthew Fenner case has not been one of them. We roll our hopes forward to 2017. The next step in the process will be this Thursday, December 8th.

Rccatalyst.com recently reported the notice filed by Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers requesting four of the five defendants to appear and address pre-trial motions. Adam Bartley’s attorney, Robert Denton will not be available for the hearing and was not listed in the announcement.

This case stems from events of January 27, 2013 inside the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Matthew alleges during a session of blasting deliverance prayer he was held against his will and assaulted including an attempt to strangle him. This form of prayer has been a controversial signature practice of WOFF since its inception over thirty years ago.
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Denton Withdraws Subpoena for Matthew Fenner

Early Wednesday morning, in the Nicholas Anderson versus Sarah Anderson divorce/custody case, attorney Robert Denton, representing the plaintiff, Nicholas Anderson, filed a “Withdrawal of: Motion to Compel Richard Matthew Fenner, III (to) Attend Deposition & Subpoena.” This turn of events occurred just slightly less than forty-eight hours after he filed a “Motion to Compel” Matthew Fenner to attend a deposition.

Monday’s Motion to Compel contained this statement about Matthew:

“Counsel seeks to depose (ask under oath) Mr. Fenner for the purposes of ascertaining Defendant’s (Sarah Anderson) character traits, propensities (tendencies), and the like, for violence.” [(- ) added ]

What happened to change his course? Without asking Mr. Denton directly, we do know he deposed Sarah Anderson on Tuesday for a lengthy session. What did he hear to change his mind? Apparently, he learned enough to reverse course and decide against putting Matthew under oath. He includes the following in his Withdrawal:

“…the undersigned (Denton) took the deposition of the Defendant on today’s date (Tuesday) and determined based on her testimony that at this time there is deposition necessary of Richard Matthew Fenner.”
Withdrawal of Motion to Compel
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Fenner Case: Sarah Anderson’s Bond Replaced, Status Conference Scheduled for July 29th

Rccatalyst.com reported on that Wednesday, a bail bondsman contacted Sarah Anderson at her home seeking to take her into custody. Earlier, Ray Farmer of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) withdrew the surety bond (property deed) which served to secure her $15,000 bond. This surety allowed her freedom while the assault and kidnapping charges against her in the Matthew Fenner case were investigated and tried. This action by WOFF has been available to them since January 2015. From a purely unemotional standpoint, this was a defensive move on WOFF’s part. However, given the lateness of the hour when it was initiated, the action was carried out in an offensive posture. We see the true nature of “Christian” church that WOFF professes to be. Is anyone shocked?

Sources close to the case relayed the glee displayed by Ray Farmer when he knew Sarah was apprehended and on her way to the courthouse. The overt displayed of joy at Sarah’s plight portrays in actions what many have known for years. The philosophy and modus operandi of WOFF has been to initiate as much pain and emotional distress as possible on those who dare leave and tell their secrets. If prophesying doom and harm will not work for those who consider leaving, then put actions to your predictions and make it hard for a defector to assume or resume a normal life. Sounds like the kind of healthy Christian love we all want-right?

Sarah secured a replacement bond and was not detained for any length of time at the courthouse. Ray’s goal of inflicting a night of complete embarrassment and emotional pain was averted for the most part.
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Fenner Case: Defendants and Attorneys Appear, Bartley Arrested

Rccatalyst.com reported on June 29th, ADA Garland Byers called the Fenner case with Judge Tommy Davis on the bench. District Attorney Ted Bell stated previously that this hearing was for the defendant’s attorneys to make an official appearance on the record. Judge Davis notified all that the stay on the case was lifted. Three defendants already had counsel. This hearing was for Brooke Covington’s and Justin Covington’s counsel to be made public.

Last week, I was in Dallas, TX for a conference and unable to attend the hearing. From the article, the attorneys listed:

Sarah Covington Anderson- represented by the Cooper firm

Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. – represented by Matthew Cabe

Adam Bartley- represented by Robert Denton. Bartley was late and Judge Davis left his case open until he arrived.

Daniel Talbert – standing in for David Teddy, who will be representing Brooke Covington.

Justin Covington asked for a court appointed attorney and was appointed Krinn Evans.

Yes, folks. You just read that. From what I have heard, Brooke Covington dropped a pretty dime for the services of David Teddy. He comes with a reputation that precedes him. Justin- not so much. He had to reverse his course after refusing public counsel last year. After the Disqualification ORDER from last August and no access to the resources which Brooke apparently used, he is left with a public defender. Krinn Evans will do Justin a quality job, no doubt. He is a criminal defense attorney with an office in Marion, NC.
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June 6th- The Matthew Fenner Case Returns to Court

After months of delays prompted by pre-trial motions, appeals and more motions, the Matthew Fenner case is set for hearing on June 6th at 9:30AM in the Rutherford County courthouse. Rccatalyst.com reported on April 13th concerning the next hearing. Also, during April, Rccatalyst.com reported the motion for Judge Marvin Pope to continue on as judge for this case, as well as Judge Pope’s April12th order for attorney Angela Beeker’s release from her representation of Brooke Covington, Justin Covington and Sarah Anderson.

The pending trial surrounds alleged incidents from January 27, 2013 wherein Matthew Fenner states he was held against his will, physically assaulted and strangled during a “deliverance” session in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). The “loud prayer” and “deliverance” has been for years the signature practice of WOFF, which has many other socially obtuse practices surrounding controls the leader, Jane Whaley, exerts over her members. Five church members have been indicted with charges including second degree kidnapping, simple assault and assault by strangulation. These members are Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley.
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