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Mother Pleads Guilty to Joining New York Church Members Beat Child to Death for Wanting to Leave

( [email protected] ) Dec 04, 2015 01:02 PM EST
The mother who participated in beating her own son to death at an upstate New York Church pleaded guilty on Wednesda
Deborah Leonard enters the court room to stand in front of Honorable Judge Bill M. Virkler for a manslaughter charge against her in the death of her 19-year-old son Lucas Leonard, in New Hartford, New York October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch/Pool

The mother who participated in beating her son to death at an upstate New York Church pleaded guilty on Wednesday. She was charged with first and second-degree assault.

It was an emotional day in court for Deborah Leonard, 59, mother of Lucas Leonard, 19 and Christopher Leonard, 17. The mother tearfully admitted to joining eight other prominent church members in beating her son, Lucas to death. She also admitted to beating another son Christopher severely. Her admissions were done in exchange for her testimony against eight others accused in the case.

According to Deborah, Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of the World of Life Church in New Hartford was the mastermind of the said crime. The pastor orchestrated the deadly beatings, which lasted from the evening of Oct. 11 up to the morning of Oct 12, a total of 11 hours.

Irwin is now set to make an appearance in Oneida County Court in Utica, New York on Dec. 7. She will be charged with murder, kidnapping, assault, and gang assault. Deborah described Irwin as a "prophet who speaks to God," and that this is what most parishioners believe.

The distraught mother claimed that it was supposed to be a counseling session that make a turn for the worse. The session was organized by the church because Lucas wanted to leave. Deborah claimed that it was back in August when Lucas admitted that he did not want to be part of World of Life Church anymore and started to attend the services of another Church. She then provided the gory details of the said counseling session that resulted in the death of her one son and the debilitation of another.

Deborah claimed that church members have asked the Leonard family to stay behind for the meeting after a Sunday service that lasted for eight hours. Then she witnessed the church members have beaten her son with fists as well as an electric extension cord. She said that as she observed her sons being held down, she felt helpless to stop the beatings from continuing. Instead, she also hit the boy with the chord and with an open hand. However, she said her last memory of her late son was that "he was still standing." She also implicated her husband, Bruce, on the beating.

New York Church Beating Death
Bruce Leonard enters the courtroom to stand in front of Honorable Judge Bill M. Virkler for a manslaughter charge against him in the death of his 19-year-old son Lucas Leonard, in New Hartford, New York October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch/Pool

Apart from her husband, she named Pastor Tiffanie's son Joseph Irwin and parishioner David Morey as the primary aggressors. All of the face felony charges for murder, gang assault, as well as kidnapping.

"When [her sons] were forced to stand up against the wall I saw [David Morey] push up against them," Leonard said as she sobbed. "He was actually growling, seething. His whole body weight was pushed against them."

Bruce Leonard will appear in court on Dec. 9 while Linda Morey and Traci Irwin are due in court on Dec. 7. The mother of the victims faces five years of prison time as well as five more years of probation. The case is adjourned until Feb, 1, pending Leonard's cooperation with the authorities. She now remains in jail with no chances of bail.

The case broke out in October, with the Church defending itself by saying Lucas was practicing witchcraft. New York Times reported that Lucas was accused of making a voodoo doll of the church leader and was planning for church elders to die.

Tags : Deborah Leonard, Bruce Leondard, Lucas Leonard, Christopher Leonard, Word of Life Church, Pastor