A judge has declared a mistrial in the criminal case against Brooke Covington, the minister at World Faith Fellowship in North Carolina who is accused of leading the attack aimed at expelling alleged “homosexual demons.”
Judge Gary Gavenus, who said he wasn’t sure when a new trial would be scheduled for the head of the controversial church, ordered a mistrial in response to a juror’s contempt. The juror reportedly brought in documents of case law research despite direct instructions not to do so.
According to the Associated Press:
“This juror has impaired the integrity and fairness of the trial … therefore I am removing this juror and declaring a mistrial,” Gavenus said.
The audience gasped. Fenner dropped his head.
“I instructed the jurors over and over again not to do research,” said the judge, who then stared at Shade.
“You are in direct criminal contempt,” Gavenus said, ordering the bailiff to handcuff Shade, 71.
“Thirty days in jail and $500 fine. You are under arrest. Get him out of here,” Gavenus said.
This couldn’t be worse news for Matthew Fenner, the victim, who told reporters that he put his life “on hold” until after the proceedings are completed.
“You can’t imagine the emotional toll this has taken on my life… I can’t do anything until this is over.”
In response to the mistrial news, Fenner’s aunt said he is “hurt and disappointed.”
“He’s disgusted at the jury. It took a lot of courage for him to come forward in the first place. There were so many roadblocks put in place. Now this. But his family and friends will stick behind him. We won’t give up.”
The mistrial in the case against Covington comes just days after Sarah Anderson, one of five World Faith members indicted for kidnapping and assaulting Fenner because he was “unclean,” said the “blasting” prayer began with Covington screaming at the gay member before he was beaten.
Anderson further admitted to starting the physical abuse.
This church has been under investigation for years, and Fenner has been awaiting justice since before his attackers were charged in 2014. He has hit “pause” on his life, so we can’t afford any more disruptions of justice like this one. Let’s put this tragedy behind us by holding all these people, including Covington, accountable for their horrendous actions justified by faith.
(Screenshot via YouTube)