The murder trial of a Georgia couple that led to the investigation of a middle Tennessee church got underway Tuesday. Joseph and Sonya Smith, members of the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, were charged with killing their 8-year-old son.more>>
Did the teachings of a Brentwood-based church lead to the beating death of a little boy? A tape may provide answers.more>>
One key piece of evidence in the trial of Joseph and Sonya Smith may be a Remnant Fellowship tape first uncovered by "NewsChannel 5 Investigates."
A jury in Marietta, Ga., heard opening statements Tuesday in the trial of the Smiths for the death of their 8-year-old son Josef.
The Smiths were members of the Remnant Fellowship in Brentwood.
Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams first aired portions on this tape three years ago.
On the tape, Sonya Smith talks with Gwen Shamblin, the founder of Remnant Fellowship, about what she learned from church leaders about child discipline.
That was just eight months before young Josef's death in 2003.
Joseph and Sonya Smith are charged not only murder, but they're also accused of confining Josef in a small room for long periods of time.
The tape comes from a Remnant Fellowship conference call about how to get children into complete obedience.
On it, Sonya Smith describes the problems they'd been having with Josef.
Then, Smith thanks Remnant leader Ted Anger and Shamblin for their advice.
Sonya Smith: "I did exactly what Ted told me to do, to spank him on the back of his thighs, take everything out of his room. That was like a two-hour job. But we got everything out of there and locked him in there from that Friday until Monday -- and only left him in the room with his Bible. I just praise God for you guys 'cause that's something, otherwise I probably would have had to go to the world and its methods -- you know, calling the police. I just had no clue how to deal with that. I just really wanted to say thank you."
Gwen Shamblin: "People need to know there's hope -- and that's a miracle. You've got a child that's going from just bizarre down to in control. So I praise God.... Thank you, Sonya, for sharing that."
(Click on the related link to listen to the entire exchange.)
After NewsChannel 5 first aired portions of that tape, Georgia investigators raided the Remnant Fellowship offices in search of that tape and other evidence.
The trial is also expected to touch on the Smith's use of glue sticks to spank their children -- an idea that our investigation they apparently picked up inside the Remnant Fellowship.