Trial Begins for Man Accused of Murdering Pastor

Pastor killed during robbery at NorthPointe Baptist Church in 2011

Monday, Oct 1, 2012  |  Updated 5:46 PM CDT
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Steven Nelson is accused of capital murder, prosecutors say he suffocated pastor Clint Dobson in the March 2011 and beat church secretary Judy Elliott withing inches of her life.

Lindsay Wilcox, NBC 5 News

Steven Nelson is accused of capital murder, prosecutors say he suffocated pastor Clint Dobson in the March 2011 and beat church secretary Judy Elliott withing inches of her life.

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Trial is Under Way for Man Accused of Killing Rev. Clint Dobson

Steven Nelson is on trial for the murder of Pastor Clint Dobson of NorthPointe Baptist Church.

Pastor's Murder Trial Begins in Fort Worth

The trial for the murder of NorthPointe Baptist Church Pastor Clint Dobson is scheduled to begin Monday in Fort Worth.
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The trial of a man charged with killing a Texas pastor during a robbery at a church began Monday morning.

In her opening statement Monday, prosecutor Page Simpson alleged Steven Lawayne Nelson went to the NorthPointe Baptist Church in Arlington last year to steal a car belonging to the pastor's assitant, Judy Elliott.

Simpson said Nelson first attacked Elliott and then attacked and killed Pastor Clint Dobson after he came to Elliott's rescue.

On the attack against Dobson, Simpson said Nelson used some kind of pistol-like device, either a BB gun or an air pistol, to hit Dobson on the head, likely knocking him unconscious.

Simpson said the attack was particularly brutal because "the defendant didn’t stop there. He decided to bind Clint Dobson’s ankles and arms so that he could not get away.  And when that did not work he took an extension cord from his computer in his office and bound Clint Dobson’s wrists.”

Simpson said Nelson used a garbage can liner to suffocate Dobson.

Elliott's husband, John, went to the church after Dobson failed to show up for three scheduled meetings and no one answered the church phone.

He was the first to discover the crime scene.

"he office was in disarray. I saw a woman that looked like had been beaten; lying there. She wasn't moving," Elliott testified.

"She was beaten so badly and puffed up that I did not recognize her."
 

Elliott also didn't realize Dobson was dead on the floor just a few feet away.

Arlington police officer Jesse Parrish was the first to make that discovery.

"It was bad. It was very obvious he had had a struggle. There was a lot of blood. You could tell he was no longer with us," says Parrish.

A judge previously ruled that jurors will be allowed to see a video recording of a police interview with Nelson. In the interview, Nelson denies the murder and beating but admits to being in the church that day. That's after police questioned him about why one victim's credit cards were found when he was arrested.

Store surveillance footage shows Nelson buying items with the cards.

Prosecutors also have hundreds of pieces of forensic evidence they say they will link back to Nelson during the trial which is expected to last more than two weeks.

If convicted, prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case.

NBC 5's Ben Russell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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