2 indicted in pastor slaying

2 indicted in pastor slaying

March 10th, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz in News

A Hamilton County grand jury has indicted an adult and a teenager accused in the grisly killing of a Chattanooga pastor.

Sixteen-year-old Brendan Barnes, left, and his cousin Antonio Henry, 25, are charged in the death of Rev. David Strong.

Antonio Henry, 26, and Brendan Barnes, 16, were indicted Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery in the Oct. 10 slaying of the Rev. David Strong, according to court records.

The 55-year-old pastor of St. Paul AME Church was beaten in the face and stabbed 29 times, according to autopsy reports.

Henry and Barnes are both slated for arraignment on March 25 before Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

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.

"There's no good reason for the two of them to be tried together when their accounts are antagonistic," Ripper said.

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 a jailhouse interview with the Times Free Press, Henry said he beat Strong with a stick and Barnes stabbed Strong after the pastor made unwanted sexual advances to Henry.

Alcohol and THC - marijuana's key ingredient - were found in Strong's system, the autopsy detailed.