This is another case of religion gone wrong to the point of becoming a dangerous cult.
The Word of Life Church has been exposed with inspiring 9 different people to murder 3 teenagers who tried to leave the church. Articles below from people.com and the Syracuse news cover several of those.
Nine defendants from the Word of Life Church have been charged with beating the two young men for hours on Oct. 11, 2015 in the New Hartford church as part of a counseling session.
VIDEO of Judge at the Sentencing: Published on Sep 1, 2016
Judge Michael Dwyer sentences Sarah Ferguson to 25 years in state prison for the beating death of her half-brother at the Word of Life Christian Church. Video by Lauren Long
Parents Sentenced in Beating Death of Son at Word of Life Church
BY CHRIS HARRIS•@CHRISHARRISMENT POSTED ON FEBRUARY 7, 2017 AT 1:28PM EST
The parents who participated in the 2015 beatings of their teenaged sons at a New York church, killing one and seriously injuring the other, were sentenced to prison on Monday after previously pleading guilty to assault, PEOPLE confirms.
Bruce Leonard, 66, was sentenced to 10 years, according to court records. He faced a potential 15-year sentence after accepting a plea bargain last year. He agreed to testify against others accused in the beatings at the Word of Life Christian Church in Chadwicks, a small hamlet located just six miles outside of Utica, New York.
Deborah Leonard, 60, was sentenced to five years. She, too, agreed to a plea deal contingent on her testimony.
The couple’s 19-year-old son, Lucas Leonard, spent the last 12 hours of his life behind the insular church’s walls, as he and his brother, Christopher, now 18, were kicked, whipped, and punched, with intermittent breaks.
The beatings began soon after both brothers approached congregation leaders with their plans to leave the church, which some former members insist is a cult.
Word of Life case: Sarah Ferguson sentenced to 25 years in state prison
UTICA, NY - Sarah Ferguson, who was found guilty of manslaughter in July in the beating death of her half-brother at the Word of Life Christian Church, was sentenced today to 25 years in state prison.
Judge Michael Dwyer, who presided over the bench trial in Oneida County court, found Ferguson guilty of first-degree manslaughter but cleared her on the second-degree murder charge.
Ferguson, 33, also was found guilty by the judge of two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of gang assault in the beating death of Lucas Leonard, 19, her half-brother. The other count is in connection to the assault on Ferguson's other half-brother 17-year-old Christopher Leonard who was injured from the beating.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara asked the judge to sentence Ferguson to no less than 25 years in state prison.
The judge sentenced her to 25 years plus 10 years of post-release supervision. The brothers' parents, who both participated in the beatings, both accepted plea deals and will get shorter sentences. Bruce Leonard will get 15 to 16 years in prison. His wife, Deborah Leonard will get no more than five years in prison.
In court today, Ferguson sobbed audibly as she tried to make a statement.
"I truly am sorry..oh my God,'' she said as she cried out. She then said she truly loved her brothers,
Ferguson admitted during her trial to taking part in the beating that killed Lucas Leonard and severely injured Christopher Leonard.
The judge today said he has to limit his statement upon sentencing because six other defendants must still go on trial.
Dwyer said that Ferguson took it upon herself to be "judge, jury and executioner" on her brothers and the bottom line is she killed her brother.
"It's inconceivable to me that during this whole incident no one was the voice of reason,'' Dwyer said. "No said tried to stop this. No one said enough is enough."
The district attorney said Ferguson should receive the same mercy her brothers got. She flogged her two brothers in the genital area with the intent to cause as much pain as she could.
"This is the most malicious, callous and brutal beating I have ever seen,'' McNamara said prior to sentencing.
Ferguson's attorney, Rebecca Wittman, said Ferguson is a good mother who never left her children's side prior to this. When Ferguson was told in "excruciating detail" about the alleged sexual abuse of her children by her brothers "she reacted like a mother,'' Wittman said.
The high-profile Word of Life Christian Church trial attracted national attention.
Nine defendants from the church have been charged with beating the two young men for hours on Oct. 11, 2015 in the New Hartford church as part of a counseling session. Lucas Leonard wasn't taken to the hospital until the next day; a doctor testified he could have lived if treated sooner.