SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of a San Augustine County jury finding Margie Coffee not guilty of improperly executing a church deed, the state has decided to drop the charges against two individuals that were also arrested and charged in connection to the church dispute.
East Texas News learned Wednesday that the San Augustine County District Attorney's Office dropped the pending charges against Terry Bishop and Ethel Husband.
Kevin Dutton, the San Augustine County district attorney, said there was no reason to pursue convictions against Bishop and Husband after Coffee was found not guilty.
"I am happy but I still don't believe that it ever belonged in the court to begin with," Bishop said.
A San Augustine County grand jury indicted Coffee, Bishop, and Husband on felony fraud charges back in 2012.
The fraud charges date back to the summer of 2011, when Coffee and her cousin Betty Clark decided to re-organize the Gloryland Pentecostal Church, which sits on land their grandparents deeded to the church.
According to a previous East Texas News story, the relationship between Coffee and her cousin took a turn for the worse, and Clark left the church in December 2011. After Clark left the church, Coffee and other members continued with their plan to establish a new church. The charges against Coffee call into the question the legality of the steps that she took to do that.
During the second day the ongoing trial for the 74-year-old San Augustine grandmother who was charged with fraud in connection to allegations that she didn't properly execute a warranty deed, the pastor of Margie Coffee's church testified that he had misgivings before he took the job there because of the “lack of visibility” about where the church's funds were going.
During her testimony in the trial, Clark said that she left the church because she didn't like the demanding ways of the interim pastor, Shawn Husband.
When Husband took the stand in the second day of the trial, he told Ryan Deaton, Coffee's defense attorney, that Clark approached him in June of 2011 about preaching at her church. He added that that he was initially reluctant to take the position because he noticed underlying tension in the church's congregation.
Husband told the jury that he prayed about the decision and agreed to serve as an interim pastor.
As time progressed, Husband started noticing red flags.
"Many were reluctant to support the church financially, due to the lack of visibility of were the funds were going," Husband said.
At that time, the only person who had access to the church bank account was Clark, Husband told the jurors. He then stated that this was odd because most churches usually have at least two people assigned to a bank account.