Two on Trial in Bible Studies Beating

Texas Pastor, Twin Brother on Trial in Case of Boy Getting Beaten During Bible Studies

AUSTIN, Texas Dec. 3 — A 12-year-old testified Wednesday that he was severely beaten with a tree branch by a church pastor and the pastor’s twin brother to “get the devil out” of him because he had misbehaved during Bible class.

Joshua and Caleb Thompson, both 23, are accused of the 2002 beating, which police say was so severe that the boy’s kidneys failed and he required a blood transfusion.

The Thompsons face felony charges of serious injury to a child and aggravated assault, with penalties ranging from probation to life in prison if convicted.

Louie Guerrero, 11 years old at the time, was the first witness as the trial began Wednesday. He said after teachers complained he had been “goofing off” during Bible studies, pastor Joshua Thompson took him to Caleb Thompson’s home where he was beaten with a branch from a tree in the yard.

He said that during the beating, Joshua Thompson called his brother, who came to help hold down Guerrero.

At one point, the boy said, he was told to pick up the pieces of the tree branch that broke during the beating. He said the beating resumed after one of brothers got a new stick.

“It hurt. I was trying to move away,” Guerrero said. “He said `Stay still.'”

During opening statements, Travis County prosecutor Dayna Blazey told jurors the beating lasted more than an hour and came the day after a confrontation at church between Joshua Thompson’s wife and the boy’s mother.

After the beating, Thompson dropped the boy off at his home and told Guerrero’s stepfather “that child has the devil in him,” the prosecutor said.

Joshua Thompson’s attorney, Gerry Goldstein, acknowledged that his client hit Guerrero with a switch from a tree and that he suffered injuries. But Goldstein said the boy’s parents practiced similar forms of punishment and had asked the Thompsons to discipline their child.

He said expert testimony would show the injuries to the boy’s kidneys could not have come from a tree branch or stick.

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