Parents in church beating case sentenced


UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) – The end of the Word of Life Church beatings case came Monday morning with the sentencing of the parents of the victims in the October 2015 incident. Bruce Leonard and Deborah Leonard appeared before Oneida County Judge Michael Dwyer for sentencing. They are the parents of Lucas and Christopher Leonard, who were beaten at the Chadwicks church on Sunday, October 11, 2015. Lucas died of his injuries and Christopher was severely injured. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard are the last two of the nine defendants in the case to be sentenced.

Deborah Leonard was the first to appear before Judge Dwyer. She was also the first of those charged to accept a plea deal from Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara. She was given a total of five year in jail. In her statement in Oneida County Court, Deborah Leonard said she was sorry for what happened, apologizing to her son Christopher and other members of her family. She also apologized to her fellow members of the Word of Life Church.

At the same time, Mrs. Leonard was defiant regarding the charges against her and the evidence presented. She said that the physical evidence, the power cord used to beat Lucas and Christopher Leonard, was a lie and intimated that the defense provided her was inadequate. She also said that her stepdaughter, Kristel Leonard, was using the incident to her own advantage. Deborah also said that she had been told that she could see her son Christopher, of whom she questioned the seriousness of his injuries, but never meet with Christopher after October 2015.

D.A. McNamara told Judge Dwyer that he checked with Christopher Leonard if he wanted to see his mother in jail. He didn’t.

Bruce Leonard was much more contrite. It was noted that Mr. Leonard did not deny his involvement in the actions that resulted in the death of Lucas and injury to Christopher. Bruce Leonard did object, as he when he took the plea deal on June 22, 2016, to some of the language of the charges. He was most upset with the labeling of depraved indifference. Mr. Leonard apologized to his family and friends and was sentenced to ten years in jail.

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