published Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Detective: Slaying suspect admitted sex for pay


by Chris Carroll
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Antonio Henry - Clip 1

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Antonio Henry told police the pastor he's accused of killing sometimes paid him to perform sex acts, an investigator testified in court Wednesday.

"According to your client, he was there and had in the past masturbated in front of [the Rev. David] Strong for a fee of $50," Detective Michael Wenger told Henry's attorney, Cris Helton. "Mr. Strong ... watched him."

Henry shook his head as he listened. The detective's testimony contradicted two jailhouse interviews in which Henry told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he beat Strong with a stick after the pastor made sexual advances.

During those interviews, Henry denied a sexual relationship with Strong and boasted about several girlfriends.

At Wednesday's hearing, Henry's mother rubbed away tears as Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon sent her son's case to the grand jury.

"I sat there and watched my son shake his head when the investigator said that," Anita Burgis said after the hearing. "I don't believe that. I don't."

Wenger said Henry mentioned the sex act at the beginning of the investigation, but police never released that detail to the public. Neither Lt. Kirk Eidson, head of major crimes division, nor Assistant Chief Tim Carroll returned phone calls for comment on this story.

Wenger characterized Strong's head as "more swollen than I would have expected in the early stages of decomposition." An autopsy also revealed 29 stab wounds.

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    Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - November 03, 2010. Antonio Henry, 25, listens as the prosecution presents evidence against him during his preliminary hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Judge Bob Moon's courtroom on Wednesday. Henry allegedly murdered Pastor David Strong after being asked to perform sex acts.

Henry's cousin, 16-year-old Brendan Barnes, accompanied Henry to Strong's Glenwood Drive home. The investigator never said why their visit with Strong turned into an hourlong attack.

"I'd rather not go any further than what we talked about in court today," Wenger said after the hearing. "I wasn't asked. I don't know why they didn't ask."

Investigators located a bloody piece of a walking stick next to Strong's body, but they never found a knife. Wenger said police found Strong wearing boxer shorts and a bathrobe along with two T-shirts pulled high on his chest. An inside-out pair of pants was next to him.

Henry and Barnes are charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. Barnes is expected to be in Hamilton County Juvenile Court today to determine whether he will be tried as an adult.

The defendants have told police different stories about how the crime unfolded.

"Brendan had a different version," Wenger said after the hearing. "Brendan says Henry wanted to either rob [Strong] or kill him."

Strong was senior pastor at St. Paul AME Church, and a handful of church members came to the courtroom Wednesday.

Robert Parks, who has been secretary at St. Paul AME for nearly 35 years and attended the hearing, said he was glad the case was moving forward and is waiting to see what evidence and testimony come out in the trial.

"I don't listen to a bunch of hearsay," Parks said. "I want to make sure everything is legitimate."

Some members have been shocked by allegations that Strong paid for sexual acts.

"It's going to take awhile for the members to get over it," he said.

On the church's website, a memorial page devoted to Strong's life has been taken down.

At Wednesday's hearing, Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox objected after Henry's lawyer asked questions about whether Strong's sexuality played into the crime. Moon sustained the objection before Wenger could answer.

In another twist to the case, Wenger told prosecutors that Henry's "intent" to assault wasn't to obtain Strong's debit card personal identification number, although police immediately identified robbery as the primary motive.

"Did [Henry] tell you why -- what he was trying to get the victim to tell him?" Cox asked Wenger.

"He did not," Wenger replied. "He told me during the assault the victim told them his PIN number for his debit card. He did not say that's what his intent was."

Wenger said Henry used the debit card three times and stole Strong's vehicle. Henry told investigators he also took a "dimebag of marijuana," some money and a gold ring with clear stones in it. Police never found those items.

"The killing fields of Chattanooga are becoming more dangerous and more defined every day," Moon said before hitting the gavel.

Staff writer Joan Garrett contributed to this story.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Henry: 'I snapped' after Strong asked for sex act

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ceeweed said...

Tales of horrific crimes, like this one, are so shocking I find it becomes numbing. Can the 16 year old involved in this crime be rehabilitated if tried in juvenile court? It is unlikely if his best example of a male mentor is his cousin Antonio.

November 4, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.
dave said...

It is sad that the newspaper would print this stuff. Letting this scum defame the good name of the man he killed. He is just trying to get off with a lesser sentence and this snake would try anything. He doesn't care what he is saying or how he is effecting the lives of this Dead Pastor's family. I suspect the problem is that someone at this non-christian owned newspaper is more interested in discrediting the name of Christ by spreading this slimy gossip and soiling this mans good name. Perhaps we should question their motives in their zest in reporting this! The Man is dead, Please do not convict him in the press of things when he is unable to speak for himself.

November 4, 2010 at 10:52 a.m.
Veritas said...

This newspaper is doing it's job, although I almost always disagree with it's liberal bias. They would be remiss in their duty if they didn't reveal all details in this case. It is certainly possible that the sexual allegations are true. If so it doesn't justify the killers' actions but merely adds another demention to the case . Should the Times have ignored the recent scandals in the R C church? Who would have thought Bill Casey, formerly of Sts Peter & Paul, was a homosexual child molester? Is their coverage of the facts besmirching Christ? I think not.

November 4, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.
rolando said...

As I said way back when, perhaps the young boy was a victim of the pastor's passions, the boy's mentor found out about it and over-reacted out of passion.

Then again, maybe not.

Let us not "convict" this guy until the truth is outed.

November 4, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.
Leaf said...

This quote from the judge is a little disturbing.

"The killing fields of Chattanooga are becoming more dangerous and more defined every day," Moon said before hitting the gavel.

Seems like he's got some definite opinions and he's improperly venting them in the court over which he's presiding.

November 4, 2010 at 1:24 p.m.
aepettway said...

Really? This is the chosen headline and cover story? Congrats TFP, you have finally given into sensational journalism. You have enlarged Antonio Henry's ego almost to the size of your own.

November 4, 2010 at 2:18 p.m.
chioK_V said...

There's no such thing as a "secret." Someone always knows the truth. TFP are just doing their jobs by reporting the news without "fear" or "favor."

The greatest cover an abuser can have is if they're in some position of authority where they're trusted. Be it a pastor, priest, police officer, teacher. The other great cover is they know to chose their victims wisely. Those victims would be the ones least likely to be believed. Those are the ones who make the easiest to prey upon.

Was Strong simply a good man looking to do good for the young often troubled men in his community who met a brutal and horrible end to his life? Was Strong bad person who used his position as a pastor, an authority figure, to prey on young, impressionable men looking for that father figure to look up to? Someone who fooled everyone, except the God he was suppose to be serving? Was Strong good person who simply lost his own way along his journey and needed help himself? Did he start out with th intent to do good, but instead ended up being a sexual predator instead. Who was Strong? If he was a predator rather than a mentor, then there are likely other victims and also other predators. Could this be a part of a bigger ring, men in authority preying on our most vulnerable? Young, poor, minority men who, in desperation and without jobs, have been forced into prostituting themselves? The truth needs to be told, regardless of someone's reputation. If the black community is honest about helping their trouble youth they should demand the truth comes out. Forget about salvaging someone's reputation. Otherwise, you become a part of your own problem and a contributor to your own downfall and tragic journey.

November 4, 2010 at 4:28 p.m.
concernedvoice said...

"Here we go again"....ChicK_V..Why is it that there is always an undertone of racism that comes out of an opportunity to seek justice for a fallen community figure, support of our troubled city youth and seeking a remedy for the disturbing surge of community violence here in Chattanooga.

That affects us ALL here in the community, not just "black" folks. Racism and ignorance is truly one of the core underlined issues that remains unchallenged here in this city.

Without seeking some common ground to address those issues, you become part of the problem and a contributor to the downfall and tragic journey of us all that try to strive for better in this community.

November 4, 2010 at 5:25 p.m.
xyzyra said...

Sorry, conceredvoice, I saw nothing racist in chiok's post. The truth cannot be ignored. In that young black males in Chattanooga commit an alarming precentage of the crimes here. If they're being sexually preyed on by members of their own community, along with police abusing them, then maybe there is another underlying factor that need be addressed. Burying ones head in the sand to what is obvious is, and I agree, a [contributing factor to the downfall and tragic journey] of an entire group of individuals.

November 4, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.
concernedvoice said...

I am too sorry xyzyra that you haven't had an opportunity to do some fact checking through TFP's latest Right To Know section which features arrest mug shots that feature more "other" folks of color VS blacks. So...there seems to be an alarming percentage of crimes committed here in Chattanooga... PERIOD...by all different ethnic backgrounds. Meth lab creations and sells, prostitution, vandalism, intoxication, etc.

Sad but true.

So so if you don't mind me rephrasing your earlier quote a little, "Underlying factors which cause burying ones head in the sand to what is obvious is, and I totally agree is that there are entire groups of individuals" that are still in belief of the phrase ignorance is bliss.

Which means that if you don't know something, then it can't affect the your view of the world. For example, if a person is completely ignorant of the sciences, the contradicting information can't challenge their belief in whichever religion they're a part of.

Just something for you to reflect upon when you feel the need to project all that negativity on a certain group of individuals that you MUST interact with in this city.

"Can't WE all just get along?" - Rodney King

November 4, 2010 at 10:19 p.m.
raspus said...

I guess I’m one of those people that have an enquiring mind that has a need to know. The press is indeed doing its job. They are reporting every aspect of this crime and I for one am enlightened by the information that the times free press is giving. Surely some of the statements that some are giving may be false but, a lot of it is true. But it will all come out before this thing is over. Sensationalism, I think not, they are just reporting what comes out when it comes out, no more or no less. When something like this happens, well when anything happens, people have a tendency to choose sides, often before they know the facts and no matter what, they will believe whatever side they have chosen. If it turns out that the allegations about Rev. Strong are true, then that’s what we should accept, if they are proven false that is what we should accept. Before I jump to a conclusion, I will continue to read the papers to stay abreast of the latest development in this case with an open mind and let the chips fall where they may. No matter what comes out I still believe these who committed this brutal crime should get the maximum sentence prescribed by law.

November 5, 2010 at 11:12 p.m.
tngal88 said...

NO! I disagree that TFP does good coverage. A Good example is the Chance LeCroy murder. The TFP at first reported that this young mad had been shot in the head, which was totally false. He was shot. No where near the head area. Then they go over to the house where kids had gathered and were in shock trying to figure out what had happened to their friend and printed it like it were facts on the case. At no time did they report of any other break ins in the area. Which there were a number of robberies just over behind the Middle Cross Baptist Church, which is just across the hill from the murder scene. They jumped on it like this was some big druggie murder and was an isolated case. Bring back the reporter who seeks out the truth of the story from behind a desk, phone and laptop. Granted they interviewed two neighbors, big woo! They drove there spent maybe 30 minutes and wrote an article and whatever they did not find in that 30 minutes, they quoted from other news outlets statements. Only reason they finally got the cause of death right in that young man's death is due to a plea from crime stoppers. A good reporter would start knocking on doors of other young men in this case who knew this pastor. Good and Bad. But it is so much easier to wait, go to the courtroom only and only print what the men say for a defense. What are details on past crime history on these defendants? Look, if this pastor was doing these activities, it won't be hard to find out. But to make the article seem like poor little angels, who could blame them for stabbing this man 29 times is outrageous.

November 6, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
mthompson332 said...

"What are details on past crime history on these defendants?"

"Look, if this pastor was doing these activities, it won't be hard to find out."

"But to make the article seem like poor little angels, who could blame them for stabbing this man 29 times..."

First two paragraphs of this article:

Antonio Henry told police the pastor he's accused of killing sometimes paid him to perform sex acts, an investigator testified in court Wednesday.

"According to your client, he was there and had in the past masturbated in front of [the Rev. David] Strong for a fee of $50," Detective Michael Wenger told Henry's attorney, Cris Helton. "Mr. Strong ... watched him."

Those paragraphs don't seem like the little angel treatment, do they? TFP reporters are doing their jobs - actual reporting, something the newspaper wasn't doing a year ago.

November 7, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.
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