Snake handling pastor will go before the Grand Jury

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. (WVLT) Pastor Andrew Hamblin sat and listened to TWRA officers in court explain their evidence against him for possessing poisonous snakes, Tuesday afternoon.

Hamblin was cited in November when TWRA officers took 53 venomous snakes from his church in LaFollette.

"I'm a firm believer, and there ain't nobody can tell me different on this; I believe the hand of God...he's got his hand over this," Hamblin said outside the courtroom Tuesday evening.

The Campbell County judge ruled that the state has probable cause that Hamblin was in possession of the snakes, and that he will face a Grand Jury in January.

Hamblin said he thought the hearing went well.

"I didn't feel nervous and scared and sick to my stomach," Hamblin said.

The TWRA officer who cited Hamblin in November spent much of the two hour preliminary hearing on the witness stand, explaining his encounter and interaction with Hamblin.

Sergeant Joe Durnin showed up to Hamblin's house November 7th and asked Hamblin if he had any snakes. Hamblin said he had several at his church, the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette.

When officers arrived at the church, Hamblin unlocked the door to the church for them and they found 53 poisonous snakes in six boxes or containers inside.

After the hearing Tuesday evening, Hamblin said he's fine with the judge's decision, but would like to put this whole thing behind him.

"I would...absolutely love it for a statement from somebody, say, leave this man alone. Leave his church alone," Hamblin said.

Hamblin will go before the Grand Jury January 6th.

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