Brooke Covington, the 58-year-old pastor from Spindale, NC accused of beating a gay man for two hours in an effort to cleanse him of his homosexual demons, just got a lucky break. Sort of.
Judge Gary Gavenus, who was overseeing her case, declared a mistrial yesterday after one of the jurors tried sharing outside evidence with some of the other jurors during deliberation.
Terry Shade Jr. was sentenced to 30 days in jail and slapped with a $500 fine after he brought in three documents, including one related to North Carolina law, to the courtroom.
Judge Gavenus had previously warned the jurors not to bring in any outside material. When he learned what Shade had done, he said: “You are under arrest. Get him out of here!”
Then he declared a mistrial.
Convington is one of five people from the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, NC charged with assault and kidnapping of Matthew Fenner.
The attack happened in January 2013. As Fenner was leaving a Sunday prayer service, a swarm of fellow church members circled around him. Under Covington’s direction, the mob began punching, beating, and choking the young man for nearly two hours.
As one point, Covington allegedly screamed, “God said there is something wrong in your life!”
“In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Is my neck going to break, am I going to die?’” Fenner later recalled.
Convington’s lawyers have argued that the pastor was innocent because Fenner never actually asked her to stop the attack while it was happening.
To add another level of weirdness to this story, earlier in the day, a man was arrested for harassing jurors. 35-year-old Chad Metcalf hauled away in handcuffs after he allegedly told the jury in the hallway to hurry up and reach a verdict.
It is not yet clear when a new trial for Covington will take place, but Judge Gavenus ordered everyone involved not to talk to reporters.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek via LGBTQNation