Justice not served

Pastor who beat gay man for two hours walks free after judge declares mistrial

Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek via LGBTQNation

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.

Related: Pastor accused of beating gay man for two hours says she’s innocent because he never asked her to stop

Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek via LGBTQNation

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  • Bob LaBlah

    The picture of whom I would like to see is of the queen who was stupid enough to remain in this church after sitting there Sunday after Sunday listening to this woman and her shit. I won’t say I am pleased with the verdict but I think the message sent was clear: get up and get your rear end out of ANY church that has told you they do NOT want your kind around. This is a belief these people are preaching with NO physical proof to back up these “laws” came from a higher power. I just don’t understand how ANYONE could be that lost to sit there and believe that b/s.

    • MacAdvisor

      There was not a verdict. A verdict is, by definition, the final decision in a proceeding. The pastor will be retried without a tainted jury.

    • Charlie in Charge

      Wow, textbook victim blaming. Please remember this began for him when he was not yet 18. Also, I think you will find that it is very difficult to extricate yourself from your family’s religion when growing up.

      Maybe it would be better to have compassion for a person who has be mistreated so badly and then admiration for him for breaking this story and thus burning many, many bridges with many supports systems he had in life.

      If you really want to see him, there are court illustrations online.

    • Bob LaBlah

      I click on his name at the bottom of the article. Queerty ran his pic back in 2014. I stand by MY verdict and still ask how silly could one become all in the name of religion. What could possibly cause you to sit with people Sunday after Sunday whom you know despise you and all you stand for?

    • teresa_landreth

      Sorry Bob, but its NOT a verdict, it might be YOUR opinion, its NOT a court verdict.

      because a lot of kids are brainwashed in the religion from such a young age, well before their sexuality comes out, they dont know WHAT to do, that is why. what they have been taught, brow beaten into their minds, is the will of an almight creator, is at odds with how they feel. some stay thinking that if they dont ACT on it, they are fine, some stay hoping to “pray away the gay” etc, etc. in this case, i can only assume either he thought he was safe from these kinds of tactics for some reason, or felt the “guilt and shame” he was brainwashed TO have, so felt it was “ok” in some kind of sick way.

  • Chris

    So if someone doesn’t tell an assailant to stop, there was no assault? Wow, what sort of a defense is that?

    • rand503

      No. In legal terms, we call that a Hail Mary defense.

  • skoop

    Brooke Covington is a piece is excrement who could look forward to perpetual agony in hell–if there was a hell. That’s her lucky break.

  • Sluggo2007

    Just one more demonstration that religion if BS.

    • Sluggo2007


  • rand503

    It’s just a mistrial. They just have to go over everything again from the start. The good news is that it’s more legal billable hours for the defense.

  • msfrost

    They violated, his religious rights, and committed Felonious Assault, as well as Kidnapping and they let her go.!!!?????

    • teresa_landreth

      no, a mistrial means that the trial will be restarted, unless the mistrial was created by some kind of misconduct on the prosecution side, then the judge could decide not to allow a retrial.

      the head line is like in a lot of places, not accurate and meant to get people to check it out more than be just “factual” she IS free, until she is found guilty, she has NOT been found innocent of any charges by any means

  • TomChicago

    Let’s remember that this was declared a mistrial because of blundering and violations committed by some people involved in the process, and the process starts all over again another time. She will be tried again, and maybe there will be a greater vigilance about jury conduct and restricted access to the jury. The new jury will hopefully see through the silly defense her lawyers are presenting (with a straight face), and lock her up. This is an example of the ugly results that come to pass under the camouflage of “religious freedom.” Here, it amounts to giving a pass to animus and violence.

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