Ex-Cowboys Among Hornbuckle's Circle of Friends
By Melody McDonald
Star-Telegram [Fort Worth TX]
August 8, 2006
The Rev. Terry Hornbuckle, 44, the founder of Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington, is on trial in state district Judge Scott Wisch's court, accused of raping three women, including two from his congregation.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to probation or to as much as 20 years in prison for each charge.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday after a four-day break.
Star-Telegram reporters will offer tidbits from the trial each day.
Tuesday, Aug. 8
- Hornbuckle and his church staff hobnobbed with some of the Metroplex's rich and famous – including former Cowboys players Deion Sanders and Quincy Carter.
In August 2004, two days after Krystal Buchanan told her stepfather that she had been drugged and raped by Hornbuckle, her stepfather got on a plane with Hornbuckle and flew to California to pick up Carter, who had been cut from the team.
Buchanan testified that she and her stepfather, who worked as Hornbuckle's right-hand man, decided to act like everything was normal for a time until they decided how to deal with their bishop.
- Jurors were not in the courtroom on the day last week when Krystal Buchanan's civil attorney, Lee Finley, pointed to Hornbuckle and shouted, "That man right there brutally raped her" – a statement that got Finley booted from the trial.
The prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed, as a courtesy, to allow Finley to watch the trial instead of staying outside like the other potential witnesses. After the outburst - which was made while he was being questioned by defense attorney Mike Heiskell about the $2 million demand he made on Buchanan's behalf - Hornbuckle's attorneys requested that Finley be permanently banned.
"You were asked a question and it led into a tirade," Judge Scott Wisch told Finley. "You are out of the courtroom for the rest of the trial."
- Apparently, a spectator thought Hornbuckle's defense team needed some pointers Thursday during their cross-examination of Krystal Buchanan. After borrowing a piece of notebook paper from Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders, a man in the gallery - who later refused to identify himself – passed a note to defense attorney Leon Haley.
It read: "Not responsive. Make the witness answer the question." The judge, who was none too pleased, called the spectator to the bench and warned him not to do it again.
- Bishop T.D. Jakes, the senior pastor of the 30,000-member Potter's House in Dallas, and former Cowboys player Deion Sanders have been subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify - but whether they will actually take the stand remains to be seen.
Their attorneys are fighting to keep them out of court, saying that Jakes and Sanders talked to Hornbuckle as "spiritual leaders" and that their conversations were privileged.
A hearing on the matter was postponed Friday because of a scheduling conflict. No word yet on when it will be reset.
- The trial has already been salacious, with testimony about sex, drugs, strippers and lesbianism. But all that might just be scratching the surface.
Prosecutors at some point plan to present evidence that Hornbuckle gave sexually transmitted diseases, specifically herpes, to three alleged victims, including two whose cases are being heard this month in the trial, according to court documents.
The defense team is working to keep that bit of information from the jury, saying that there "exists no medical evidence" that the women actually have the disease, documents state.
- A jury of 14 Tarrant County residents, which included two alternates, is already down to 13. Before testimony even got under way Wednesday, a juror called in sick with a "gastrointestinal-type" illness.
The prosecution and defense agreed to immediately dismiss the juror rather than waiting for a doctor's note. The judge said no one wanted to take the chance of being exposed to the illness.
It is, after all, expected to be a long trial.