RUTHERFORD COUNTY — In Superior Court Monday morning Judge Marvin Pope granted Rob Denton a motion to withdraw as Adam Bartley’s counsel for the Matthew Fenner case. After Bartley applied for a court-appointed attorney on Monday, Sept. 11 2017, Brian Oglesby was assigned to represent him.
On January 27, 2013 Matthew Fenner alleged he was held against his will while being assaulted during a deliverance session of blasting or loud prayer in the sanctuary of Word of Faith Fellowship (WoFF.) Though there were many delays, five defendants were charged:
- Brooke Covington, leader in the WoFF ministry; she had charge (church supervision) over Sarah Anderson
- Justin “Covington,” Brooke & Kent Covington were guardians
- Sarah “Covington” Anderson, Brooke & Kent Covington were guardians; she had charge of Matthew Fenner according to the WoFF hierarchy
- Robert Louis Walker, Jr. and
- Adam Bartley
As to the motions for change of venue neither David Teddy, Brooke Covington’s counsel, who was absent for a medical reason nor any representative from his law firm were present. Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Garland Byers, Jr. asked Judge Pope to keep that matter open. However, both Krinn Evans and Brian Oglesby, attorneys for Justin Covington and Adam Bartley respectively, both addressed the judge with their perspectives on a change of venue.
Krinn Evans stated he had no objection to the change of venue. With the publicity surrounding the mistrial of Brooke Covington due to jury misconduct and the investigative articles by the Associated Press and others, Evans made the suggestion that the trial be moved to McDowell County. Judge Pope has entered his own motion ex mero motu for a change of venue to Buncombe County.
Brian Oglesby had no objection to a change of venue, but also suggested that the venue be changed to McDowell County. Both Evans and Oglesby practice law there as it is part of the Judicial District 29-A. It also halves the travel distance for both attorneys and the judge and answers questions regarding the case being tried out of county, out of district, and out of session should the trial be moved to Buncombe County.
ADA Byers stated that the State of North Carolina did not oppose a change of venue to Buncombe County since it has a larger jury pool to draw from.
Neither defendant Sarah Anderson nor her attorney were in court.
Judge Marvin Pope stated he could help “expedite moving these cases forward” by having all those who had filed motions regarding venue to be at a hearing this week. After a quick consultation with ADA David Norris, ADA Byers suggested Thursday morning and all would be notified if there was need for a change.
Motion to change the venue is scheduled to be heard in court Thursday at 9:30 a.m.