8 Indicted in Fatal Beating at Word of Life Church

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

7 suspects in Chadwicks church case charged with murder.

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — The pastor of an insular New York church where a young man was beaten to death and his younger brother seriously injured was among seven people charged Tuesday with murder. NEW HARTFORD — Three new people have been charged tonight in the beating death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard at the Word of Life church in Chadwicks, including Pastor Tiffanie Irwin.

Police initially charged the boys’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, with manslaughter, and arrested the others on an array of charges, including assault. Pastor Tiffanie Irwin’s mother, Traci Irwin, also was charged in a 13-count indictment, as were Irwin’s two brothers, Joseph and Daniel Irwin, all of whom were leaders in the church.

Also named were the victims’ father, Bruce Leonard; their half-sister Sarah Ferguson; and two other church members — Linda Morey and her son, David Morey. His brother, Christopher, 17, received blunt force injuries when he was repeatedly struck during the same session, which was initiated because Lucas Leonard wanted to leave the congregation, prosecutors said. The grand jury’s indictment charged the brothers’ father, Bruce Leonard, 65, with 13 criminal counts including second-degree murder, kidnapping and gang assault.

Tiffanie Irwin and Traci Irwin originally were not charged in the incident, while the other five were initially charged with first-degree manslaughter in Lucas Leonard’s death. The brothers’ mother, Deborah Leonard, 59, was not named in the grand jury indictment but will appear in Oneida County Court on Dec. 2 to face separate charges of first-degree assault against Lucas and second-degree assault in Christopher’s beating, according to her lawyer Devin Garramone.

Christopher Leonard, during a preliminary hearing last month, testified that he and his brother were beaten with an electric extension cord fashioned into a whip. Garramone has said the mother felt helpless to stop an “intervention” that she didn’t expect to become so harsh and he didn’t believe she caused the fatal injuries. Over what he estimated was six or more hours, the teen said he was pummeled with fists and whipped with a 4-foot, folded electrical cord on the back and elsewhere, suffering injuries to his torso and genitals. Most of those indicted in the case remain in jail on bail of tens of thousands of dollars each, while David and Linda Morey have been released on bail of $50,000 each, according to jail records. After the attack, the beating victims’ relatives wouldn’t tell officers where to find the injured Christopher Leonard, who ultimately was located on the church’s second floor, investigators said.

Lawyers for the other defendants could not immediately be reached for comment on the accusations, and some of them were not represented in court on Tuesday.

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