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Four church members, parents charged in teen's death

By
Amy R. Connolly
Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah R. Leonard, 59, were charged in the death of their 19-year-old son. Four fellow church members were charged in the assault of the couple's 17-year-old son. Photos from New Hartford Police Department.
Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah R. Leonard, 59, were charged in the death of their 19-year-old son. Four fellow church members were charged in the assault of the couple's 17-year-old son. Photos from New Hartford Police Department.

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Six members of the Word of Life Christian Church in New York were arrested after the 19-year-old son of two of the suspects died as a result of a severe beating, police said.

Lucas Leonard was fatally injured in an assault, police said. His 17-year-old brother, Christopher, was also severely beaten and was in critical condition. Their parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah R. Leonard, 59, were arrested on a manslaughter charge and pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Four other church members were arrested on assault charges, but their connection to the incident is not clear.

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The four other suspects are Joseph Irwin and Davide J. Morey, both 26; Linda R. Morey, 54; and Sarah L. Fergason, 33.

New Hartford police said they were called to a local hospital about noon on Monday, after the 19-year-old was brought in with a reported gunshot wound. The injury was later determined to be blunt force trauma.

After searching the church, which is located in an old school building, several children were turned over to child protective services.

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