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.
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. Continue reading Hearing Set in Matthew Fenner Case –Dec. 8th→
Earlier this week, a source not close to the case informed me that the status conference scheduled for July 29th has been postponed. After verifying the change with additional sources, it was learned that Judge Pope could not be present for the hearing. No subsequent date for this hearing is known at this time.
Let’s not be too concerned. This case will be heard. It may not be in the time frame that many desire or with procedures we are all familiar with; but the charges against Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr and Adam Bartley will be resolved. Matthew Fenner will have an answer as to the charges filed over the incident on January 27, 2013 in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).
The signature practice of loud prayer and deliverance from WOFF may be on demonstration in the Rutherford County courtroom before these cases are complete. Okay, that will be the day for any and all who are curious to pack the courtroom and witness the controversial “secretive practice” which has been a lightning rod for controversy since 1995 when Inside Edition showed video taken inside WOFF. How can we forget? Why should we ignore it?
When all is said and done with this case, there will be a judgment handed down by proxy on WOFF, loud deliverance prayer and the ministry of Jane Whaley and her top leadership. Yes, five individuals are charged with various levels of crimes, but in the end — Jane Whaley is on trial and she knows it.
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?
Late Friday, sources close to the Matthew Fenner case confirmed the hearing set for June 6th has been postponed. No confirmed date for rescheduling is available at this time. Possible reasons for the postponement include Judge Pope having an unexpected scheduling conflict.
The hearing on Monday would have been the first in this case since August of last year. Five defendants, who were at the time of the alleged incidents members of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), face varied charges including second degree kidnapping, simple assault and one for assault by strangulation. These defendants are Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, JR. and Adam Bartley.
Matthew Fenner alleges that on January 27, 2013, he was assaulted in the sanctuary of WOFF during a “deliverance” session. The five defendants were named and indicted in December 2014 after an initial hearing. Once the new District Attorney Ted Bell took office in January 2015, he set aside those indictments amid rumors of improper procedures and possible witness tampering and presented the evidence to a second grand jury. This session secured for the State a set of indictments which Bell described as clean true bills of indictment. [ Timeline for this case – here.] Continue reading June 6th Hearing for Fenner Case Delayed→
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. Continue reading June 6th- The Matthew Fenner Case Returns to Court→
March 17, 2016- Josh Farmer filed an “Appellant’s Motion to Withdraw Appeal” with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The reasons for the appeal include the fact-
“3. On March 4, 2016- Sarah Anderson retained the independent counsel of Jeffrey Cooper and Benjamin Cooper to represent her in the criminal matter.
4. The remaining appellants, Brooke McFadden Covington and Justin Brock Covington, desire to withdraw their appeal.”
This motion to withdraw allows the Disqualification ORDER of Judge Marvin Pope to stand. Tomblin, Farmer and Morris, now- Farmer and Morris LAW, PLLC or their associates can no longer represent any of the five defendants in any matter related to the indictments/charges in this case.
This clears the way for another court date to resolve pre-trial motions involving change of venue, change of venire as well as keeping Judge Pope for the remainder of the case. It is reasonable to assume the next court date for this case will be within a month. Continue reading Farmer Files Withdrawal of Appeal→