The great-grandson of the televangelist who created Rhema Bible Training College appears poised to avoid trial after being charged with a drive-by shooting.
And he got assistance from an unlikely place — former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris.
Blake Kenneth Hagin, the great-grandson of Kenneth E. Hagin, was charged in March with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon after he and two others allegedly fired more than 20 bullets into a Broken Arrow home.
Hagin and two other teenagers, Sevey Price and Gordon McAuliff, were arrested for the shooting, records show. McAuliff admitted to driving the vehicle, and Price told police he and two other passengers — alleged to be Hagin and a juvenile male — fired into the home.
Harris, a former Tulsa County District Attorney and a candidate for Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District, told The Frontier he had assisted the Hagin family with Blake Hagin’s case.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I don’t think that particular case is going to go to trial.” Former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris.[/perfectpullquote]
“I’m not going to enter into the court record on the case. I was approved by the family to negotiate on their behalf,” Harris told The Frontier.
“I don’t think that particular case is going to go to trial,” he said.
It’s unclear exactly what that negotiation entailed, though court records show it appears all three defendants will potentially evade a jury trial.
All three defendants have waived their preliminary hearings, typically a sign that some sort of plea agreement is likely. However, for McAuliff and Price, the months since their arrests in connection with the drive-by shooting have not been without incident.
Records show the pair was arrested for drug possession, prompting the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to file a motion last week to hold them each without bond until trial. It’s unclear how that motion might play into any possible plea deal; attorneys for McAuliff and Price did not respond to requests for comment.
Neither did Hagin’s attorney, Michael King, though King did file a motion last week asking to postpone Hagin’s arraignment until Tuesday because he believed “a resolution could be reached” without a trial.
The alleged crime was not the most well-planned misdeed. Police reports state the three teens called the alleged victim just prior to the shooting, saying they were en route to “shoot up his house.”
Tulsa police located the vehicle, a white Dodge Charger belonging to Hagin’s mother, not long after at a south Tulsa QuikTrip, records show, and recovered rifles used in the shootings at Price’s home in Tulsa.
If Harris’ involvement in the case sounds peculiar, given that he served as Tulsa County’s top law enforcement officer for nearly two decades, maybe it shouldn’t. When Kenneth Hagin died in 2003 at the age of 86, Harris was “acknowledged” at his funeral along with former Tulsa Mayor (and current District Judge) Bill LaFortune, according to a Tulsa World story.
District Judge Bill Musseman is overseeing the criminal case against Blake Hagin.
The Tulsa World story about Hagin’s funeral said more than 1,000 people attended the funeral. Among the mourners were many famous evangelists, “including T.L. Osborn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Frederick Price, Jerry Savelle, Richard and Lindsay Roberts, Carlton Pearson, Billy Joe and Sharon Daugherty, Willie George, Bob Yandian and others.”
Kenneth Hagin’s legacy
Born in McKinney, Texas, Kenneth E. Hagin rose to prominence in the 1940s and 1950s as a traveling minister, preaching about healing through faith. Known as “Dad Hagin,” or “Papa Hagin,” he eventually moved his ministry to Tulsa in the 1960s, and he created Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow about a decade later.
Hagin’s son, Kenneth W. Hagin, remains in charge of the Rhema institutions.
“Papa Hagin” was one of the most well-known “charismatic” preachers of his day, claiming both a gift of healing and prophecy. Videos of his sermons hosted on YouTube show him speaking in tongues and making predictions about the future.
In one video, Hagin speaks in an unintelligible language, then spends several seconds cackling loudly to himself before returning to preaching in tongues.
In his time, Hagin’s preaching was controversial to some. An article in Christianity Today, published shortly after his death, noted some of his preaching — what Hagin referred to as “Say it, Do it, Receive it, and Tell it” — seemed to be a precursor to the controversial prosperity gospel espoused by prominent televangelists today.
Hagin was quoted in that story as having preached, “If you don’t like what you have in life, then begin to change the way you are thinking, believing, and speaking. … Begin to confess God’s promises of life and health and victory into your situation. Then you can begin to enjoy God’s abundant life as you have what you say!”
Hagin is also well-known for his story about nearly dying as a child and traveling to hell. Born with what he said was a malformed heart that had left him nearly paralyzed for his entire life, Hagin wrote in his book “I Believe in Visions” that when he was 15 years old his heart stopped beating and he had an out-of-body experience.
“I began to descend down, down, into a pit, like you’d go down into a well, cavern or cave. And I continued to descend. I went down feet first. I could look up and see the lights of the earth. They finally faded away. Darkness encompassed me round about — darkness that is blacker than any night man has ever seen.
The farther down I went, the darker it became — and the hotter it became — until finally, way down beneath me, I could see fingers of light playing on the wall of darkness. And I came to the bottom of the pit.”
As Hagin told it, he traveled to hell, and back, multiple times. Each time he described darkness, fire, and a creature who tried to drag him down deeper into “the pit.”
Finally, he was “suctioned” back to earth, where he re-entered his body and recovered from his illness.
Tim Harris for Congress
As for Harris, the former 16-year Tulsa County District Attorney launched a bid in April to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who is not seeking re-election.
Harris told The Frontier that his turn as a politician is “going really well,” and said he had recently delved into the realm of “rural health care,” hoping to better understand its effects on Oklahomans.
“When you look at Oklahoma, the health care rural citizens receive is very important and it is going away,” he said.
Harris is one of five GOP candidates seeking to replace Bridenstine. The others include state Sen. Nathan Dahm; Owasso businessman Andy Coleman; local businessman Kevin Hern; and Tulsa pastor Danny Stocksill.
Of the group, Harris has been the second-most successful fundraiser, according to federal election filings. However, he’s a distant second — Harris reported raising $79,722.66, compared to Hern who has reported raising $767,331.06.