RUTHERFORD COUNTY — The State versus Robert Walker trial scheduled to have begun Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 has been continued to a future date. In a memo to Judge Marvin Pope on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Garland F. Byers, Jr. filed an email on Wednesday stating that “by Order of this Court without objection by the State due to new discovery which has just been generated in regards to this case and which defense counsel will need in order to adequately prepare for trial,” confirming the continuance.
The district attorney’s office at the same time notified the Buncombe County Clerk of Superior Court that the case would not be called on Monday. Presiding Judge Marvin Pope had ordered a change of venue for the Matthew Fenner cases after a mistrial was declared in the Brooke Covington case and the extensive publicity concerning the Word of Faith Fellowship members’ cases.
The WoFF has recently gained national and international publicity regarding its worship practice of blasting, alleged non-payment of Brazilian workers, broken families, arranged marriages, and possible misconduct of some of the attorneys within the church as reported by the Associated Press.
The five defendants in the Matthew Fenner case are or were members of the Word of Faith Fellowship and charged in the alleged assault and kidnapping of Fenner. Fenner says he was held against his will during a deliverance session of blasting or loud prayer in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WoFF) on January 2013 to deliver him from homosexuality. The five defendants are:
- Brooke Covington
- Justin Covington
- Adam Bartley
- Robert Louis Walker
- Sarah Anderson
Brooke Covington’s trial held in the May-June RC trial session ended in a mistrial when the jury foreman brought outside documents into the jury deliberation room. A continuance was issued in the Bartley case when defendant Adam Bartley hired a new attorney, his fifth.
In his memo ADA Byers stated that an appropriate trial date for Robert Walker, Jr. would be discussed with defense attorney Matthew Cabe after “we have provided supplemental discovery as required by Statute.”