Response to Harris family lawsuit filed

By By Johnathan Manning

Attorneys for a man accused of shooting a pastor in church have responded to a lawsuit filed by the pastor’s family.

Ron Richard, attorney for Frances Harris, filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family in early November. Harris is

the wife of Ronald Harris Sr., the pastor of Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center.

Todd Clemons and Adam Johnson, attorneys for Woodrow Karey, 54, who is charged with manslaughter, filed a response Thursday.

Karey is accused of walking into

Tabernacle of Praise during a revival service on Sept. 27 and shooting

Harris, 51, twice

with a shotgun. Karey reportedly immediately turned himself in to

authorities, telling deputies that Harris raped his wife.

The lawsuit says Harris’ family suffered mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment

of life.

Karey’s response said Harris’ alleged actions were “the cause in fact of the damages sustained.” The response also detailed

a text message reportedly sent by Harris, meant for Karey’s wife.

The family’s lawsuit says the killing was “grisly, gruesome and outrageous.”

“Woodrow first shot at (Harris) from a distance prior to stalking the wounded, retreating (Harris) until both reached the

front of the tabernacle, in front of the entire congregation and family of (Harris),” the lawsuit reads.

The final shot was in front of Frances Harris, as well Ronald Harris’ mother and his grandchildren, the lawsuit says. The

pastor suffered “great pain, suffering, and/or bodily injury prior to his death,” it says.

The damage “was in no way” caused by either of the Harrises, but was “caused by the intentional acts of Woodrow,” the lawsuit


Among the six defenses listed in the response, Karey’s attorneys claim that Harris’ actions with Karey’s wife “constitute

the cause in fact of the damages sustained.”

“(Karey) should be relieved of any liability for any damages which have or may result,” the response says. “At the very least,

(Harris’) fault should serve to reduce the amount of damages assessed (Karey).”

Should the court award Frances Harris

damages, Karey’s attorneys requested that damages be “offset and/or

reduced proportionately

by the monies previously donated to the (Harrises).”

The response includes a text message reportedly sent by Harris, which the response claims was meant for Karey’s wife, but

was inadvertently sent to Karey on Sept. 21.

The derogatory 165-word text message called Karey’s wife “just a piece of meat” and included six swear words, according to

the text in the response. The message accused the Kareys of trying to persuade other people to leave the church.

The response claims that Karey was subsequently told his wife had been raped at gunpoint by Harris. Harris then attempted

to blackmail her by forcing her to take naked photographs, the response says.

The response also details the relationship between Karey and Harris, saying Harris was once Karey’s “pastor and closest friend.”

Karey gave Harris financial help several times, the response claims — co-signing for vehicles, cellphones and home furniture;

giving Harris $1,500 for a trip to Hawaii; and giving him $5,000 to help the church meet its monthly mortgage payment.

When Karey could not afford to support Harris financially, he left the church in 2011 with no “ill will,” although he continued

to make payments on things for which he had co-signed, the response says.