Teen's hearing delayed in slaying of pastor

Teen's hearing delayed in slaying of pastor

January 7th, 2011 by Todd South in News

Further testing to determine if a 16-year-old charged in the slaying of a Chattanooga pastor is mentally competent to stand trial has delayed the teen's transfer hearing from Juvenile Court to face charges as an adult.

Brendan Barnes has been charged along with his 25-year-old cousin, Antonio Henry, in the Oct. 5 beating death of David Strong in the pastor's home at 404 Glenwood Drive.

On Thursday, Barnes' transfer hearing -- where it will be decided whether to try him as an adult -- was moved to Feb. 3.

Barnes is charged with first-degree murder and especially aggravated burglary.

Hamilton County Juvenile Court spokesman Chris Albright said Judge Suzanne Bailey had granted more time for mental health testing to decide whether Barnes is able to stand trial.

Barnes' attorney, Kevin Stanfield, would only say Thursday that "there are some competency issues that need to be further addressed before we can have a full-blown hearing."

Proceedings in Juvenile Court involving mental-health testimony are closed to the public.

If Barnes is deemed incompetent to stand trial, he would likely be put in state custody for treatment, and information regarding the charges would be sealed, Albright said.

Several members of Barnes' family attended the hearing but left the Juvenile Courts building immediately after and declined to comment.

Shortly after Henry and Barnes were arrested, the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office said it would seek to try Barnes as an adult.

Assistant District Attorney Neil Pinkston and H.C. Bright, Juvenile Court prosecutor, were present at Thursday's hearing.

Afterward, Pinkston said the hearing was moved but declined to comment further.

Police say Barnes and Henry beat and stabbed Strong before stealing his car and debit card.

In jailhouse interviews with the Times Free Press, Henry said he and his cousin "snapped" after the pastor made unwanted sexual advances.

Police have called the death a robbery gone wrong and have disputed Henry's claims. Police have testified in court that Henry admitted to previous visits to Strong's home to perform sex acts for money, according to newspaper archives.

Henry's case was sent to the Hamilton County grand jury on Nov. 3. There is no new information in county records on his case.