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Local TV evangelist pleads not guilty to abuse, neglect of elderly mother, disabled husband

July 8th, 2011 10:53 am by Kacie Breeding

BLOUNTVILLE — A Sullivan County TV preacher has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging abuse and neglect of her 92-year-old mother and 59-year-old disabled husband, who both required immediate medical care when they were removed from her home in February.

Brenda Viars, 59, 4260 Highway 126, Blountville, pleaded not guilty to two counts each of physical abuse or gross negligence of an impaired adult, a Class C felony, and willful abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult, a Class E felony during a formal reading of the charges Friday morning in Sullivan County Criminal Court.

Attorneys Justin Pennington and Rick Spivey appeared with Viars Thursday morning. Following Viars' arraignment, Pennington asked the judge to "bar the (media) cameras" from the courtroom, citing a concern about pre-trial publicity and the possibility that it might "taint" the jury pool.

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