Uncle says he wasn’t allowed to see teens who were beaten in church

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (AP) – The latest on the fatal beating of a 19-year-old and serious injury of his brother inside a church (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

The uncle of two teenage brothers who were brutally beaten in an upstate New York church says its leaders kept them estranged from relatives who weren’t members.

Jimmy Stewart went to a New Hartford court Wednesday for a hearing in the case. His 17-year-old nephew, Christopher Leonard, survived the attack this month, but 19-year-old Lucas Leonard died.

Christopher Leonard is expected to testify against one of the suspects, his sister, Sarah Ferguson.

She has pleaded not guilty. So have five other defendants, including the victims’ parents.

Stewart says he and his wife attended Word of Life Christian Church in the 1990s but never joined because they felt “something wasn’t right.”

He says the church’s pastors then forbade the Leonard children from associating with his family because they weren’t church members.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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