New York Church Beating: Pastor Among 8 Indicted For Manslaughter

New York Church Beating: Pastor Among 8 Indicted For Manslaughter
St. John AME Church damaged by earthquake, Lafayette Square Baltimore Heritage / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Eight people, including the pastor of a New York church, were charged Tuesday for the murder of a young man who was beaten to death. The victim’s younger brother, who was also beaten, was seriously injured.


According to ABC News, Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, along with her mother, Traci Irwin, and brothers, Joseph and Daniel Irwin, were charged in the 13-count indictment. All of them were leaders in the church. The accused also included the victims’ father, Bruce Leonard, their half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, and church members, Linda and David Morey.

The victims, brothers Lucas Leonard (19) and Christopher Leonard (17), were beaten over a course of 10 hours at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, New York. The beating initiated because Lucas wanted to leave the congregation. While Lucas died because of the beating, Christopher was severely injured.

Tiffanie and Traci were not originally charged in the incident. The remaining five face first-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Lucas. Daniel, the eighth accused, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, kidnapping and assault. The victims’ mother, Deborah, who was not named in the grand jury indictment, will appear in Oneida County Court and will face charges of first-degree assault against Lucas and second-degree assault against Christopher.

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Last month, Christopher said in a preliminary hearing that an electric extension cord was used as a whip to beat him and Lucas, as reported by He also testified that Tiffanie had organized the counseling session. After the beating, Lucas was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in Utica, New York, where he was pronounced dead.