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Snake-Handling Preacher Convicted of Trying to Kill Wife With Serpent

February 13, 1992 GMT

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) _ A snake-handling preacher could get up to life in prison for trying to kill his wife by forcing her hand into a cage of rattlers.

A jury Wednesday convicted the Rev. Glenn Summerford, the 47-year-old pastor of the Church of Jesus With Signs Following, of attempted murder. No sentencing date was set.

Summerford’s wife, Darlene, was bitten twice by the poisonous snakes but recovered at a hospital. She testified that her husband tried to kill her last fall after accusing her of dating another preacher.

″He took a pipe and hit the cages real hard so the snakes got real mad and then grabbed me by the hair and said he would push my face in if I didn’t stick my hand in there,″ she said. ″He said I had to die because he wanted to marry another woman.′

A defense witness, Tammy Flippo, testified that Mrs. Summerford was actually bitten while trying to kill her husband. ″She told me that she got Glenn so drunk he passed out and went out to the shed to get a snake to put on him but it bit her instead,″ the woman said.

On cross-examination, the 23-year-old woman denied dating or having a social relationship with Summerford. But prosecutors produced a witness who said that Flippo had stayed at the preacher’s house several nights.

″I feel like justice was done,″ Mrs. Summerford said. ″Thank the lord they convicted him.″