Matriarch of secretive church sect gets two years in prison for beating teen to death and injuring his brother, for 14 hours the brothers were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord
All-night beatings killed Lucas Leonard, 19, severely injured his brother Christopher Leonard, 17, in Oct, 2015 at the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, Utica, NY
Incident happened after brothers discussed leaving Word of Life Christian Church congregation
9 people were charged in the boys’ death including their parents Deborah and Bruce Leonard, and the boys’ half sister Sarah Ferguson
Others charged are Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, Tracie Irwin, Joseph Irwin, Daniel Irwin, Linda and David Morey
Matriarch of the congregation, Traci Irwin, 55, pled guilty to two counts of felony unlawful imprisonment
Irwin, 55, was sentenced to two years in prison, Monday
Tiffanie Irwin, 55, Irwin Joseph Irwin, 23, David Morey, 27, Linda Morey, 55, faced second-degree murder charges
Monday, all 4 pled guilty to felonies to avoid felonies a murder trial
Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of the New Hartford-area church, pled guilty to two felonies – third degree manslaughter and second degree assault.
Pastor Irwin faces 12 years in prison according to her plea deal, while the others defendants face jail terms ranging from 5 to 8 years
Traci Irwin (above in court) where the matriarch of the secretive New York church, she ran with her children, was sentenced to two years in jail. Two brothers were beaten for hours during a counseling session in the church
The matriarch of a small New York church where two brothers were brutalized for 14 hours during a counseling session has been sentenced to two years in jail. The pastor of the church already struck a plea deal that will see her serve a minimum of 12 years.
The all-night beatings killed Lucas Leonard, 19, severely injuring his brother Christopher Leonard, 17, in Oct, 2015 at the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, near Utica in NY
The pastor of the church, Tiffanie Irwin, shackled in court pled guilty ton manslaughter in October. She will serve a minimum of 12 years
The pastor of the secretive church, Tiffanie Irwin, based out of in central New York was holding a meeting to address concerns that a teenage congregant wanted to defect when other church members began to beat the teenager in an attack that eventually stretched over 14 hours, a prosecutor said.
Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, her brother Daniel Irwin and their mother, Traci Irwin as well as, six other members of the congregation were accused of varying degrees of involvement in an October counseling session at the Chadwicks church that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard and the severe injury to his 17-year-old brother Christopher Leonard.
Monday, the matriarch of the church, fifty-year-old Traci Irwin was sentenced to jail in Oneida County Court after pleading guilty to two counts of felony unlawful imprisonment.
Back in October, pastor Tiffanie Irwin, pled guilty to two counts of felony, third-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault. The plea agreement called for her to receive a sentence of 12 years in prison.
Christopher Leonard and Lucas Leonard. 19-year-old Lucas lost his life as a result of the beating while his younger brother, Christopher was left with severe injuries.
The pastor’s brother,23-year-old Joseph Irwin, pled guilty to first-degree gang assault and second-degree assault. He faces eight years in prison.
David Morey, 27, and Linda Morey, 55, both entered guilty pleas for two counts of second-degree assault, and face five years in prison, each.
The last of the nine defendants, church matriarch, fifty-year-old Traci Irwin was sentenced Monday in Oneida County Court after pleading guilty to two counts of felony unlawful imprisonment.
Investigators said the brothers were beaten for talking about leaving the congregation.
Complicit parents Bruce and Mary Leonard as well as the victims’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, participated in the beating
Leaders of the church gang: Tiffanie Irwin, Traci Irwin, Joseph Irwin, Daniel Irwin
The Observer-Dispatch reported that during sentencing for Tracie Irwin, her attorney, Frank Policelli, insisted she was ‘innocent’: ‘I understand we have an agreed-upon sentence, but you’re sentencing an innocent person,’ Policelli said.
Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer refuted defense claim , describing her as being in the best position to stop the beatings, as she had seniority in the church.
Policelli tried to counter and state that he believed his client would have been found not guilty with a fair trial and a fair judge.
He said that she’ll likely be released in March as she has already been in jail without bail for roughly 15 months.
The matriarch did thank the court for allowing her to ‘see the beauty of those who are broken’ in ‘heart, mind and soul.’
She also thanked the court for allowing her ‘to partake in this suffering,’ as she was adamant she had no knowledge of the horrific beating that happened a little over a year ago.
David Morey and Linda Morey both pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault, and will serve five years in prison, each.
‘I had no knowledge. And if I had, things would have been very different if I had,’ she told the court.
‘Of all the tragedy that’s happened to me in my life, if I had five minutes to redo something, I’d choose five minutes right there to save Luke because I loved him. I loved this family because it’s who I am.
‘And every single person you must have spoken to and the district attorney must have spoken to say the same thing.
‘That’s the truth. I had no knowledge. And that’s all I have to say.’
In total nine people were charged in the deadly attack, as eight took plea deals, including the teens’ parents, Deborah and Bruce Leonard, Word of Life Christian Church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, her brothers Joseph Irwin and Daniel Irwin, their mother Traci Irwin, along with mother and son church members Linda Morey and David Morey.
The lone holdout, the boys’ half sister Sarah Ferguson [picture], was convicted in July of manslaughter and assault. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison for her role.
A sign hanging on a utility pole outside the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York in 2015 where the horrific incident took place
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara previously called the case ‘a terrible tragedy.’
‘I can only hope that Luke can rest in peace, Chris can get on with his life,’ McNamara said.
Christopher Leonard testified at an earlier hearing that Tiffanie Irwin asked his family and some others to stay behind for a meeting after an eight-hour Sunday service last October.
Over the next 14 hours, he said, he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.
McNamara has said the brothers were ordered during the beating to repent for a variety of sins, including using a voodoo doll.
Police have said there was no evidence to support a claim by their half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, that they had molested her children.