2 defendants in New York church beating case take plea deals

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — Two people have pleaded guilty for their involvement in a violent counseling session at their secretive New York church that left one young man dead and another severely injured.

Traci Irwin and her son Daniel Irwin pleaded guilty Friday in Oneida County Court to two counts of unlawful imprisonment and are expected to receive two-year prison terms.

They’re among nine people charged following the beating death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard at Word of Life Christian Church last October. Leonard’s 17-year-old brother, Christopher, survived the beating.

In court, District Attorney Scott McNamara said neither Traci nor Daniel Irwin physically harmed the brothers. He said Traci Irwin was aware of the session and Daniel Irwin acted as guard.

The victims’ parents have pleaded guilty to assault. Their half-sister was convicted of manslaughter.

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