Christopher Leonard, the 17-year-old survivor of a New York church beating earlier this month at Word of Life Christian Church, testified against his half-sister on last Wednesday for her role in the crime.
Leonard’s 19-year-old brother Lucas died as a result of injuries from the attack. Christopher was severely injured. The boys were beaten with fists, kicked, and whipped with an electrical cord over their torso and genital area.
Among the six people arrested was Sarah Ferguson, Christopher’s 33-year-old half-sister. She has been charged with assault and is being held on $50,000 bail. Ferguson has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.
Courtroom personnel had rearranged the courtroom so that the two would have additional distance between each other while present. Both Leonard and Ferguson avoided eye contact with each other as he testified.
17-year-old Christopher Leonard testified in open court for the first time on last Wednesday. He provided additional details about the New York church beating that claimed the life of his 19-year-old brother and left him severely injured. Photo credit: YouTube/wochit News (screenshot)
Although the judge limited the scope of Christopher’s answers, testimony revealed a possible central motive for the attack. Lucas was planning to leave the church.
After an eight-hour church service on Oct. 11, Pastor Tiffanie Irwin requested that the Leonard family and other church members stay behind for a meeting. The brothers were interrogated about Lucas’s plans and their “sins” by church members. When they refused to answer all of the members’ questions the beating, which lasted for over six hours, began.
After hearing Christopher’s testimony, Judge William Virkler ruled that there was enough evidence for prosecutors to present the case against Ferguson to the grand jury.
District Attorney Scott McNamara was quoted as saying that he could not imagine the type of stress that Leonard was under as he testified.
Word of Life is located in Hartford, New York, approximately 50 miles away from Syracuse. The church had long been rumored by locals to be secretive, cult-like, and odd.
A.L. Woods has been working as a freelance commercial writer since 1989 and is currently the Religious News Correspondent for The Daily Voice News. She is an author, editor, and lover of all things tech. Woods is "building her own little corner of the world one word at a time."JOIN HER MAILING LIST to stay up to date on major releases.Visit her AUTHOR PAGE to check out some of the inspirational books that she has written.