New developments in the murder of the Rev. David Strong, the prominent Chattanooga pastor who was brutally tortured and killed in October 2010. A Chattanooga jury has indicted 16-year-old Brendan Barnes and his 26-year-old cousin Antonio Henry, who initially claimed the pastor made unwanted sexual advances.
Henry and Barnes were indicted on charges of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery in the Oct. 10 slaying of the Rev. David Strong. The 55-year-old pastor of St. Paul AME Church was beaten in the face and stabbed 29 times, according to autopsy reports.
Barnes will be tried as an adult. His attorney, Jonathan Turner, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. Henry’s attorney, Daniel Ripper, said his client will plead not guilty. "We’re still in the earliest stages of gathering information, figuring out what we can do and what we can present," Ripper said.
Because Barnes and Henry have given conflicting reports of who was responsible for Strong’s death, Ripper said he and Turner will most likely seek to have the two tried separately.
Barnes and Henry were arrested days after Strong’s death when they were stopped while riding in Strong’s car. In court testimony, Chattanooga police Detective Michael Wenger has said Barnes told him the pair went to Strong’s home to “rob and possibly kill” the pastor.
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.
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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