Word of Life Church beaters indicted for murder

Bruce Leonard enters the courtroom for a hearing, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. Leonard and his wife have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, and four fellow church members have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man's brother severely injured. (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) – Eight members of the Word of Life Church in New Hartford were indicted on murder charges Tuesday.

The pastor of an upstate New York church where a young man was beaten to death and his younger brother seriously injured has been indicted on murder charges.

Deborah Leonard enters the courtroom for a hearing, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y.  Leonard and her husband have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, and four fellow church members have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man's brother severely injured.  (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)
Deborah Leonard enters the courtroom for a hearing, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. Leonard and her husband have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, and four fellow church members have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man’s brother severely injured. (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)

Pastor Tiffanie Irwin’s mother, Traci Irwin, also was charged Tuesday, as were Tiffanie Irwin’s two brothers, the victims’ father and half-sister and two other church members.

The indictment charges all but one of the Irwin brothers with second-degree murder. All eight face charges of manslaughter, kidnapping, assault and gang assault. They were in court Tuesday.

Plea information wasn’t initially available. Messages left for defense attorneys weren’t immediately returned.

Authorities have said “spiritual counseling” spiraled into a gang attack on 19-year-old Lucas Leonard and his 17-year-old brother, Christopher. The older brother died from injuries suffered at the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford on Oct. 12.

 

Sarah Ferguson stands in court during  a hearing, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. Bruce Leonard and his wife Deborah Leonard have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, while Ferguson is one four fellow church members who have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man's brother severely injured. (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)
Sarah Ferguson stands in court during a hearing, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. Bruce Leonard and his wife Deborah Leonard have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, while Ferguson is one four fellow church members who have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man’s brother severely injured. (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)

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