Defiant Central pastor's attorney hospitalized with COVID-19, church member dies from virus
CENTRAL - A lawyer representing a defiant pastor who was cited for refusing to abide to a statewide stay-at-home order has contracted the coronavirus.
Friends and family say Jeff Wittenbrink was hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19.
Also this week, an usher at the church died of complications related to the coronavirus. The 79-year-old died after acute respiratory distress, which is a complication associated with novel coronavirus, the coroner told WBRZ Thursday.
Sources confirmed with WBRZ the man's ties to the church.
Spell refused to share information when reached by phone earlier in the day.
The attorney, who is being cared-for in the hospital, according to the Advocate, is part of the legal team representing Tony Spell and the Life Tabernacle Church. The attorney reportedly attended two different events at the church in recent weeks, a news conference on April 2 and a church service on April 5.
Spell has drawn ire nationwide for his refusal to obey social distancing guidelines put in place by the state. Earlier this month, he was issued tickets for six different gatherings held at his church in direct defiance of state orders.
Spell hired ex-judge and Alabama politician Roy Moore to represent him. Wittenbrink is currently working as the local counsel for Moore.
At a news conference Thursday, the governor said there was no active investigation about possible virus clusters at the church facility. The state has previously classified a cluster as two connected virus cases.
It's likely not possible to determine how the deceased church member and the surviving attorney contracted the virus.