Gay beating jury says can’t reach verdict, judge gives them more time

Word of Faith Fellowship (WSPA)

UPDATE (WSPA) – Members of the jury determining the fate of Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, told a judge Tuesday morning they could not reach a verdict.

The message to the judge was received during a jury recess. The judge decided against delivering an Allen Charge, which is given when a jury is deadlocked and can’t reach a unanimous verdict.

The judge gave the jurors more time to deliberate the case against Covington. She is accused of leading the 2013 beating of Matthew Fenner.

Reporting by Katy Solt

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) – More than four years after Matthew Fenner said he was beaten by members of his North Carolina church for being gay, the fate of one of his ministers is in the hands of a jury.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, is accused of leading the 2013 beating to expel Fenner’s “homosexual demons.”

Fenner said he was punched, choked and screamed at for two hours in the sanctuary in January 2013.

The jury deliberated for about an hour Monday and will resume deliberating Tuesday.

Prosecutor Garland Byers said Fenner was held against his will and attacked. Defense lawyer David Teddy said Fenner requested the form of prayer.

If convicted, Covington faces two years in prison. Four others will be tried separately.

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