Weeks after his cousin pleaded guilty to murder charges, Brendan Barnes admitted his role in the 2010 beating and stabbing death of pastor David Strong.
In the Hamilton County Criminal courtroom of Judge Don Poole, Barnes, 19, pleaded guilty Tuesday to facilitation of second-degree murder and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery in the Oct. 5, 2010, death of Strong. Barnes will serve 12 years in prison.
On April 9, Barnes' cousin Antonio Henry, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. Henry was sentenced to 20 years.
Prosecutor Neal Pinkston said after the hearing that Barnes' level of intent wasn't as high as Henry's and the evidence showed that the elder cousin played more of a role in killing Strong.
Church members attended both hearings. Pinkston said he had been in touch with Strong's family members, who live outside the area, and Barnes' mother leading up to Tuesday's hearing.
"Everybody seemed to be in agreement regarding the plea," Pinkston said.
In a 2010 jailhouse interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Henry said he and Barnes had gone to the pastor's home to smoke marijuana. While there, he said, Strong propositioned the pair for sex.
Henry said that's when they assaulted Strong.
ATM cameras took photographs of Henry withdrawing money using Strong's charge cards at three locations in the days after Strong's death.
Police pulled Henry over in Strong's PT Cruiser on Oct. 10, 2010, five days after the pastor had died in his 404 Glenwood Drive home.
Strong was serving as pastor of St. Paul AME Church at the time of his death.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...