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Man Rejects Plea Deal In Church-Beating Case Involving Sons

Chad Kainz, flickr

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 brought the elder Leonard 18 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors say the brothers were subjected to hours of physical abuse after Lucas said he wanted to leave the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford.

Their 66-year-old father; his wife, Deborah; and six other church members of were charged in October.

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

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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