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In court Wednesday, Leonard acknowledged that a church member raised the idea that Lucas Leonard had molested children, but neither the father nor prosecutors confirmed such abuse took place. Police have said there is no evidence to support the claim.
Bruce Leonard said the idea of witchcraft also was raised during the beating. District Attorney Scott McNamara called the session "a modern-day witch trial."
Sarah Ferguson, who is accused of taking part in a mass beating that killed her half-brother and severely injured another half-brother, was found guilty today of manslaughter, but cleared of murder.
The judge ruled:
Second-degree murder: Not guilty
First-degree manslaughter: Guilty
First degree assault, 2 counts: Guilty
Gang assault, 2 counts: Guilty
UTICA, NY - The last four defendants in the Word of Life Christian Church beating case in Oneida County pleaded guilty in court today to much less serious charges than they were originally facing.
The four, who were facing second-degree murder charges, pleaded guilty to felonies.
Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of the New Hartford-area church, pleaded guilty to two felonies: third-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault. The plea agreement calls for her to receive 12 years in prison.
Joseph Irwin, her 23-year-old brother, pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and second-degree assault. He is to receive eight years in prison.
David, 27, and Linda Morey, 55,, both pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault, and will get five years in prison each.