Still no verdict from Hornbuckle jury

By Melody McDonald and Traci Shurley
August 21, 2006

FORT WORTH Deliberations in the trial of the Rev. Terry Hornbuckle continued through Day 5 Monday with still no verdict and plenty of questions from the jury.

The jury of nine women and three men sent out at least 16 notes Monday asking for testimony, bringing the total to at least three dozen since deliberations began Aug. 15. The panel has deliberated 281/2 hours.

In their last note of the day, jurors indicated that some were feeling "some pressure to reach a verdict" and wanted state District Judge Scott Wisch's input.

Terry Hornbuckle

"There is no pressure," Wisch said he told them. "Deliberate at your own pace."

Most of the notes Monday dealt with the second accuser, who is being identified by the pseudonym "Jane Doe," and requested specific testimony. So far, none of the notes has indicated that they are deadlocked or unable to reach a verdict.

"Until they tell me they are having a problem ... we will just sit back and wait," Wisch told reporters after jurors sent out their 32nd note.

He said this is the longest he or any attorneys in the case have spent waiting on a verdict with no sign of a deadlocked jury.

Hornbuckle, 44, founder of Agape Christian Fellowship in southeast Arlington, is accused of raping three woman.

His first accuser, Krystal Buchanan, testified that Hornbuckle drugged and raped her inside a Euless apartment in July 2004.

The second woman, "Doe," testified that she turned to her bishop for spiritual advice and that the counseling sessions turned sexual at least five times in early 2003. In Texas, it is against the law for a clergyman to use his influence to exploit for sex a parishioner's emotional dependency.

The third woman, who is being identified by the pseudonym Kate Jones, is the only woman not affiliated with Hornbuckle's church. She testified that she met Hornbuckle at a fitness club and that he drugged and raped her after they smoked methamphetamine together in 2004.

If convicted, Hornbuckle faces punishment ranging from probation to 20 years on each charge of sexual assault.

Wisch said that jurors seem to be keeping their discussions civil, in fact they continue to bring in home-baked goods to share with one another. He called their demeanor "calm, quiet, professional, methodical."

"There has been nothing that indicates any kind of dissention or argument," Wisch said.

Deliberations will resume Tuesday morning. Wisch has said that if Hornbuckle's trial continues past Wednesday, there will be no trial on Thursday or Friday because one of the jurors has a prior commitment.

Traci Shurley, (817) 548-5494

Melody McDonald, (817) 390-7386


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