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Mistrial Declared in Church Minister’s Trial

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RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of a North Carolina minister accused of orchestrating the beating of a gay congregant (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

A judge cited a juror’s misbehavior and declared a mistrial in the case of a North Carolina church minister accused in the beating of a congregant who says he was attacked to expel his “homosexual demons.”

The judge immediately held the juror in contempt on Tuesday and sentenced him to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for bringing in unspecified outside materials.

Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, had faced up to two years in prison if convicted on charges of kidnapping and assaulting former member Matthew Fenner in January 2013.

The 58-year-old Covington was the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

Fenner, who is now 23, says he was slapped, punched, choked and screamed at for two hours as they tried to expel his “homosexual demons.”

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2:25 p.m.

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a North Carolina church minister accused in the beating of a congregant who says he was attacked to expel his “homosexual demons.”

The judge cited the misbehavior of a juror in declaring the mistrial. Brooke Covington, a longtime minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina, had faced up to two years in prison if convicted on charges of kidnapping and assaulting former member Matthew Fenner in January 2013.

The 58-year-old Covington was the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

Fenner, who is now 23, says he was slapped, punched, choked and screamed at for two hours as they tried to expel his “homosexual demons.”

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1:30 p.m.

Several former members of a church whose minister is on trial on charges of beating a gay congregant say they don’t recognize a man who was accused of harassing the jury.

Chad Metcalf was brought before Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus in handcuffs Tuesday after he allegedly told jurors they need to reach a verdict in the case. The jury began deliberating Monday and resumed Tuesday.

Metcalf’s connection to the case, if any, was not immediately clear. Several former members of the church who were in the courtroom told The Associated Press they didn’t know or recognize Metcalf.

Court records show a man by the same name had a court date Tuesday on a charge of driving with a revoked license.

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.”

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11:30 a.m.

A man has been charged with harassing the jurors deliberating in the trial of a North Carolina minister accused of beating a congregant to expel his “homosexual demons.”

The man apparently told jurors in a hallway Tuesday that they needed to reach a verdict. Deliberations began Monday and resumed Tuesday morning.

The man was brought before Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus in handcuffs. Gavenus told the man he takes the matter seriously and set his bail at $100,000. Gavenus said the man could face 39 months in prison.

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.”

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

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5 a.m.

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.

[Image  via WSPA screengrab]

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