Pastor of secretive church sect is sentenced to 12 years in prison over the killing of a teenager who was beaten to death during a counseling session

Daily Mail, UK/December 20. 2016

By Jennifer Newton

A pastor at a secretive church has been jailed for 12 years over the killing of a teenager who was beaten to death during a counseling session.

Tiffanie Irwin, 30, from the Word of Life Christian Church in New York had admitted the manslaughter of Lucas Leonard, 19, and assault 17-year-old Christopher Leonard last October.

Her brother Joseph Irwin was also sentenced to eight years in jail and mother and son church members Linda Morey and David Morey have also been charged to be convicted in the attack.

And at Oneida County Court in Utica, New York yesterday, Irwin was sentenced to 12 years in prison over the death of Lucas and the assault of Christopher.

Her sentence came after Irwin tried to evade her sentencing, claiming she had not been afforded a fair trial and that her case had been handled improperly.

According to the Observer Dispatch, Irwin said that her plea had been coerced and that a grand jury witness's testimony should have been thrown out because it was prejudicial.

She said: 'I have been denied my rights to a fair trial, to a fair and impartial jury, and a fair and impartial judge.

'I was forced to plea so that my friends Linda and David Morey and my brother Joseph Irwin could enter their pleas. When our offers were changed so they could not accept their offers unless I pled guilty, I was forced to give an Alford plea.

'I wish to withdraw my plea which was coerced.'

However Judge Michael L. Dwyer told her there was no legal reason why she could change her plea and she was sent to jail.

Irwin and her accomplices were arrested after the bloodied body of Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where doctors initially thought he had been shot.

Authorities later found his badly injured brother still inside the converted New Hartford school building that housed the church and living space for its leaders.

Christopher Leonard testified at an earlier hearing that Tiffanie Irwin asked his family and some others to stay behind for a meeting after an eight-hour Sunday service last October.

Over the next 14 hours, he said, he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.

Their lawyer also said the brothers were ordered during the beating to repent for a variety of sins, including using a voodoo doll.

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