Father of Victims in Fatal NY Church Beatings Rejects Plea Deal

The father of two teens beaten inside a central New York church has rejected a plea deal in his second-degree murder and assault case.

Bruce Leonard turned down the offer from prosecutors during an appearance Tuesday in Oneida County Court. Accepting the deal in the death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard and the beating of his 17-year-old brother, Christopher, would have would have brought the elder Leonard 18 years to life in state prison.

The 66-year-old father, his wife, Deborah, and six other members of the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford were charged in October.

Prosecutors say the brothers were subjected to hours of physical abuse after Lucas had indicated he wanted to leave the church.

Seven of the other co-defendants rejected plea deals last week. Deborah Leonard pleaded guilty to assault.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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