Fenner assault case by WoFF members has hearing Dec. 8



woff-justice-copyRUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The State of North Carolina has called 4 of the 5 defendants in the assault case on Matthew Fenner to a hearing scheduled Dec. 8, 2016. Noticed were former and current Word of Faith Fellowship (WoFF) members Brooke McFadden Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Justin Brock Covinton, and Robert Louis Walker, Jr.  and their counsel.

Defense attorney Robert Denton was unavailable to be at this hearing for his client and the fifth defendant, Adam Bartley.

The Matthew Fenner case against the five members of the Word of Faith Fellowship began on the night of January 27, 2013 when Fenner alleged that he was held against his will, assaulted and an attempt to strangle him was made during a powerful prayer session at the church. Powerful prayer is how the church describes their particular form of loud prayer or blasting.

Numerous delays in this case include the fact it took almost two years for Fenner to have his account taken by the R.C. Sheriff’s department and his case brought before the Grand Jury by former district attorney Brad Greenway for charges. These true bills were re-done in Jan. when current district attorney Ted Bell took office and found some possible errors in procedure.

Additional delays were caused with its pre-trial hearings, bond revocations, related custody and other criminal charges with the defendants, several subpoenas for depositions issued in unrelated cases for State witness Matthew Fenner  and other motions, positions, and continuances.

For this December 8 hearing Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers, Jr.  has proposed the following two matters to be heard by the Honorable Marvin Pope:

First a status conference will determine for the record whether the Defendants will pursue the motions filed by their previous counsel.

  • In the early stages of this matter the defendants were jointly represented by the law firm of Farmer & Morris, L.L.P.C. The prosecutor challenged multiple defendant representation would invoke conflicts of interest and not be fair to the defendants.  Judge Pope ruled in the State’s favor and the defense attorneys appealed. The appeal was dropped when some of the defendants hired their own attorneys and the case was withdrawn.
  • There are also motions of Change of Venue and Change of Venire before the court.

Second the State is making a motion for Judge Pope to preside over all matters in this case until final resolution.

  • Judge Pope heard and ruled on numerous pre-trial motions before the stay of all five cases was issued when lawyers Joshua Farmer, Mark Morris, and their firm appealed their disqualification of representation. Pope heard the many arguments, related briefs and documents and had ordered an in chambers review of evidence provided by WoFF member Ray Farmer.
  • One of Pope’s last instructions to the ADA in the last hearing was to reschedule these cases as soon as the appeal issue was resolved.
  •  On April 4, 2016 Assistant District Attorney Garland F. Byers, Jr. had made a request to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the Hon. J. Thomas Davis and the Hon. Marvin P. Pope, Jr. that they assign Judge Pope to the related cases.

While the resolution of these two issues will move the trial forward again, the actual trial date is not expected until Spring of 2017.