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The Latest: Neighbor: Family in church beating religious


The Associated Press

Bruce Leornard, left, and Deborah Leonard, center, stand in the courtroom during their arraignment, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in New Hartford, N.Y. The central New York couple have been charged with fatally beating their 19-year-old son inside a church, and four fellow church members have been charged with assault in an attack that also left the young man’s brother severely injured, police said Tuesday. (Mark DiOrio/Observer-Dispatch via AP) ROME OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Associated Press

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NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (AP) — The latest on the killing of a 19-year-old inside a New York church (all times local).

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2:30 p.m.

A neighbor of the teenage brothers who were beaten at a New York church says they were not allowed to do “normal” kid things.

Nicole Howard says Christopher and Lucas Leonard weren’t allowed to have sleepovers. She says the family was very religious and the children were forced to read the Bible two hours each day.

The 31-year-old Howard grew up six houses away from the Leonards.

Nineteen-year-old Lucas Leonard died Monday. His 17-year-old brother is hospitalized in serious condition. Police say the boys were beaten after a “counseling session” at the World of Life Church turned violent.

The victims’ parents and sister are locked up along with three other church members on charges they assaulted the teens Monday.

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2:05 p.m.

A police official says the injured teenage brother of a young man who died after a brutal beating inside a New York church was concealed there and it took investigators some time to find him.

New Hartford Police Chief Michael Inserra said Wednesday they discovered 17-year-old Christopher Leonard was also injured during a counseling session that turned violent at the World of Life Church. His brother, Lucas Leonard, was brought to a hospital with serious injuries where he later died.

But Christopher was hidden somewhere on the second floor of the Word of Life Church in New Hartford. Inserra said the boy eventually came out on his own and is now receiving medical attention.

Six church members, including the victims’ parents and sister, are now locked up on charges they assaulted the two young men on Monday.

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1:20 p.m.

A police official says brutal beatings that left one teenager dead and his brother seriously wounded at a New York church were part of what members considered a “counseling session.”

New Hartford Police Chief Michael Inserra said Wednesday that both Lucas and Christopher Leonard were subjected to hours of physical punishment at the Word of Life Church “in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness.”

Inserra says investigators are still looking into what the supposed sins were. He said there’s no indication, at this point, that the issue was sexual assault.

Nineteen-year-old Lucas Leonard died. Seventeen-year-old Christopher is hospitalized in serious condition.

Six church members, including the victims’ parents and sister, are now locked up on charges they assaulted the two young men on Monday.

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7 a.m.

Police in a central New York town have scheduled a news conference to discuss their investigation into the death of a teenager who was allegedly beaten inside a church by his parents.

Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard. Four other members of the Word of Life Church in New Hartford also have been charged in connection with the man’s death.

New Hartford police say Lucas Leonard died Monday after he was beaten at the church. Officials say his injured 17-year-old brother was found inside the church and is hospitalized in serious condition.

Police have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning to discuss their investigation.

Authorities have declined to discuss a motive or other details of the case.

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