PLEA OFFER REJECTED — Word of Life church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin exits court today after rejecting a plea offer from the District Attorney’s Office. Irwin is the the first of eight members to appear in court this week and next; she rejected an offer from the DA to plead guilty to the top charge filed against her. (Sentinel photo by Sean I. Mills)
Word of Life pastor rejects offer
Word of Life church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin rejected a plea offer from the District Attorney’s Office this morning — the first of eight members to appear in court this week and next.
Irwin’s appearance before Judge Michael L. Dwyer today began a week’s worth of hearings for all eight church members still charged in the beating death of Lucas Leonard.
All eight defendants will decide whether to accept or reject the offer from the District Attorney.
Irwin, 29, turned it down, and will take her case to trial.
“We asked for a plea to the highest charge,” explained District Attorney Scott D. McNamara. “It’s not a situation where we’re offering her a deal to get her to plead guilty.”
McNamara said it was a not a plea bargain. He said if Irwin wanted to plead guilty, she would have to plea to the highest charge — second-degree murder — and accept a sentence of at least 18 years to life in prison, the minimum sentence for murder.
Irwin is scheduled to reappear in court for motion argument on Feb. 8. Along with murder, she is charged with manslaughter, gang assault, kidnapping and more.
Authorties said on the night of Oct. 11, Irwin led a “counseling session” at the secluded New Hartford church in regards to brothers Lucas and Christopher Leonard.
Authorities said Irwin and the other defendants beat on the two brothers for several hours, until Lucas died from his injuries. Christopher survived and was hospitalized.
Traci Irwin, Joseph Irwin, Daniel Irwin, Sarah Ferguson, David Morey and Linda Morey are all scheduled to appear this week. The brothers’ father, Bruce Leonard, is scheduled to appear next week. Their mother, Deborah Leonard, has already pleaded guilty to felony asault.
- 4:10pm 05/25/17Delta Lake, Verona Beach set for Saturday opening to help kick off summer season
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Lee Town Board approves funding, reduced-size for stone wall in town park
- 4:00pm 05/25/17To better help kids, officials urge parents to become tech savvy
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Teen accused of ‘sexting’ girl, faces felony charge
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Bridge work over arterial to begin in Utica; detours, delays likely, DOT officials warn
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Celebrating 40 years of service
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Tenney resolution condemns sexual abuse by U.N. forces
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Flagstone Real Estate holds grand opening
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Rome man accused of leading police on high speed chase
- 4:00pm 05/25/17Utica police probe shooting