Your first look at Brendan Barnes, the 16-year-old accused in the murder of the Rev. David Strong, the prominent Chattanooga African Methodist Episcopal pastor who was brutally tortured and killed on October 4. Barnes will be charged as an adult, reports WRCB.
Barnes and his 26-year-old cousin Antonio Henry face first degree murder charges. In October, Henry said in jailhouse interviews that he and Barnes stabbed Strong after the pastor made unwanted sexual advances. Police detectives later contradicted that story in court, saying Henry told police that Strong sometimes paid him to perform sex acts.
Barnes and Henry "blamed each other during police interviews" taken hours after the pastor's body was found last October, according to court documents revealed at Barnes' transfer hearing.
"The child admitted he struck ... [the Rev.] David Strong multiple times during an attack in which Mr. Strong was also stabbed multiple times by Antonio Henry," according to a Hamilton County Juvenile Court affidavit written by Chattanooga police Detective Michael Wenger. But Henry, 25, "claims Mr. Barnes actually stabbed Mr. Strong," the affidavit states.
During the transfer hearing to determine whether Barnes was competent to stand trial in adult court, his attorney painted his client as an unwilling accomplice to his older cousin's mayhem. ... According to [police] testimony, Barnes told the detective that Henry held a knife to Barnes' throat until the teen began hitting an already-beaten Strong "some more times" with a blunt object to "prove myself." ... The issue of sex did not surface during Barnes' transfer hearing last week.
Henry and Barnes face charges of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault charges for stabbing the prominent pastor up to 29 times, taking ATM card and stealing his car. Both are being held without bond.
Rev. David Strong had pastored the St. Paul AME Church for a decade and had a long history in Tennessee and Kentucky with the AME Church. The 2.5 million-member African Methodist Episcopal Church is the world's oldest and largest predominately Black denomination. The AME Church has opposed openly gay clergy, same sex unions, most gay rights initiatives and marriage equality.
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