New court date set for local pastor pending Supreme Court decision


BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — An arraignment for a local pastor accused of violating COVID-19 restrictions put in place last year has been placed on hold.

Pastor Tony Spell will have to wait another 90 days before he will be back in front of Judge Eboni Rose at the 19th District courthouse again after allegedly violating COVID-19 mandates.

Spell is the pastor of Life Tabernacle Church. He is accused of continuing to hold church services with hundreds of parishioners while COVID-19 cases were surging across Louisiana. At the time the charges were filed, Governor John Bel Edwards was limiting social gatherings to 10 people.

“Whenever the governor put these rules and mandates in place, they were unlawful, they were unconstitutional,” Spell said.

This case is currently before the Louisiana Supreme Court and once they make their ruling, the lower court will decide on how to proceed. Spell is certain the Louisiana Supreme Court will rule in his favor.

“We feel confident as long as the judges in the Louisiana Supreme Court rule on our first amendment rights, freedom to assemble, free speech, free exercise,” Spell said. “If they don’t, then American is on the course to anarchy.”

Separately, Spell also faces an assault charge after he allegedly backed a school bus into a man, nearly hitting him, in April. Then he was cited for alleged alligator hunting violations in June, according to authorities.

“They want to catch me doing something illegal, they want to catch me doing something that they can discredit me and take the focus away from the real matter which is freedom of religion,” Spell said.

Spell never set foot inside the courthouse on Oct. 19 because he refused to wear a mask. The new court date is scheduled for Jan. 18 next year.

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