Fatal NY church beating: woman jailed for 25 years
Sarah Ferguson, 33, above, who was found guilty of manslaughter in July following the death of her half-brother at the Word of Life Christian Church in New York, was sentenced this week to 25 years’ imprisonment.
According to this report, Judge Michael Dwyer – presiding over the trial in Oneida County court – found Ferguson guilty of first-degree manslaughter of her half-brother, Lucas Leonard, 19, but cleared her on the second-degree murder charge.
She also was found guilty by the judge of two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of gang assault on Lucas Leonard and her other half-brother, 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, who was injured in the attack.
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.
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 and severely injured Christopher, pictured above.
Dwyer said that Ferguson took it upon herself to be “judge, jury and executioner” on her brothers and the bottom line is that she killed her brother.
It’s inconceivable to me that during this whole incident no one was the voice of reason. No said tried to stop this. No one said enough is enough.
District attorney, Scott McNamara, said Ferguson should receive the same mercy her brothers got and pointed out that she flogged her two brothers in the genital area to cause as much pain as she could.
This is the most malicious, callous and brutal beating I have ever seen.
It was alleged by the family that the two victims had been punished for sexually assaulting Ferguson’s children.
Nine defendants from the church were charged with beating the two young men for hours on October 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.
Deborah Leonard and Bruce Leonard both described in court how they and Ferguson beat and whipped Lucas and Christopher Leonard with an electrical cord. Ferguson admitted that she also whipped the two young men.
Bruce Leonard testified that his sons were whipped to punish them and get them to confess to accusations that they molested Sarah’s children and another teen.
During the trial, Christopher Leonard testified that he “inappropriately” touched Ferguson’s children, but did not rape or sexually abuse anyone.
Ferguson testified that the brothers confessed to raping one of her children and abusing other children. The prosecution questioned whether Ferguson was telling the truth about the abuse.
The remaining defendants are scheduled to go on trial in October.