Tag Archives: Judge Marvin Pope

Fenner Case: Status Conference for July 29th Postponed

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.

Did anyone mention how hot the month of August will be in Spindale?
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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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June 6th Hearing for Fenner Case Delayed

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.]
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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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Farmer Files Withdrawal of Appeal

Disqualification of WOFF Attorneys Stands

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.

wd of appeal March 17th

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.
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NC Court of Appeals to Review Judge Pope’s Orders (Court Docs +)

Update in the Matthew Fenner Case:
The NC Court of Appeals granted the request for writ of certiorari submitted on September 15th by Josh Farmer on behalf of the three defendants, Brooke Covington, Justin Covington and Sarah Anderson. Rccatalyst.com reported this ruling on Monday. From the article which quotes the order:

“Defendants’ petition for writ of certiorari is allowed for the purpose of reviewing the order entered on 6 August 2015 by Judge Marvin Pope, Jr. granting the State’s motion to disqualify counsel and the order entered on 27 August 2015 by Judge Pope denying the Defendants’ motion for reconsideration. It appearing the defendants have retained appellate counsel and are not seeking court-appointed counsel, the appeal shall be deemed taken as of the date of this order. The record on appeal shall thereafter be settled as provided in Appellate Rule 11 and filed in the Court as provided by Appellate Rule 12.

Defendant’s petition for writ of supersedeas is also allowed… and all further trial court proceedings are hereby stayed pending the outcome of defendants’ appeal to this Court.”

Included in the quoted article is a copy of the docket sheet for the case showing 10/5/15 as the date of the ruling.

What does this mean? From a layman’s perspective, this means the trial could actually be delayed for several months at a minimum. It appears to me that the first step will be to acquire the transcripts from the Superior Court sessions on August 3rd and August 27th. Those could take up to 60 days from the date of the initial request for the transcripts. After those are submitted to the appropriate parties, there comes a set time frame for each party to the appeal to agree on the accuracy of the submitted materials.
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Recap of Events, Motions, and Letters in Fenner Case as of 9/25/15 (court docs)

There is a lot of ground to cover in this post. We will begin with a timeline of known events, filings and letters issued during the last few weeks. Some of these events have already been covered or mentioned here. Also, we will note which ones have been reported by Rccatalyst.com.

In summary, five defendants from the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) were indicted in January of this year on several charges including felony assault and second degree kidnapping stemming from events on January 27, 2013. The five defendants include Brooke M. Covington, Justin B. Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley. Tomblin, Farmer & Morris (TFM) started out as counsel for the five. After hearing a Motion to Disqualify TFM on August 3rd, Judge Marvin Pope issued an ORDER of Disqualification of TFM and their associates for representing any of the five. Adam Bartley and Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. have since secured counsel. Bartley’s attorney is Robert Denton and Robert Walker’s attorney is Matthew Cabe. Both attorneys practice in Morganton. TFM filed a Motion to Reconsider the Disqualification and took on Angela Beeker to argue for them. August 27th, Judge Pope issued an ORDER denying the Motion to Reconsider Disqualification.

9/11/15- Letter from Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers to Attorney Denton (not placed in court file until 9/18) (Rccatalyst.com 9/26) Byers explains the State’s position with Bartley’s bond and offered plea. Byers points out that Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) holds the security (land) for the bond and for any reason or no reason have the option to withdraw their security. This could land Bartley in jail until other means or considerations for a bond are made. The power that WOFF has in holding the bonds of all five defendants is a matter of concern or Byers and he is seeking a way of “eliminating this situation.” In this letter, Byers admits concerning the plea, he is “keeping the offer open and disregarding your client’s premature rejection…” This is not a surprise in my eyes.

9/14/15- Attorney Beeker files Motion to Withdraw from counsel and Motion to Continue – Motion to Withdraw has not been heard because of the Stay issued 9/17, therefore Beeker remains as counsel for Brooke, Justin and Sarah- in the eyes of Superior Court. (Rccatalyst.com 9/15)
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