Feb 9, 2016

Word of Life Church pastor in court, case adjourned

Micaela Parker
UticaOD
February 8, 2016
Word of Life Christian Church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin was briefly in Oneida County Court Monday and had her case adjourned until mid-February.
Irwin, who is one of nine church members accused of taking part in an October counseling session that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard and severe injury of his 17-year-old brother Christopher Leonard, was supposed to be in court for answer and argument— where prosecutors and public defender Kurt Schultz would discuss motions he made last week regarding the case.
It was adjourned until Feb. 22 because Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara was unable to attend the proceeding.
In Schultz’ motions, filed on Feb. 1, he argues several points not limited to:
* Seeking a change of venue due to a “deep and abiding resentment” in the county that would eliminate the ability to find an impartial jury.
* Reducing or dismissing her charges including the murder and manslaughter charges because he argues there is no evidence to support the claim that she encouraged church members to assault the teens, he argued. He also stated in his motions that Irwin had no legal obligation to seek medical help for Lucas Leonard, who died as a result of injuries inflicted during the counseling session.
* He argued that search warrants issued in the case were overbroad, leading to the “unlawful” seizure of hard drives, thumb drives, electronic storage and other audio video recordings of counseling sessions, something he believed are protected by “priest penitent privilege.”
The prosecution has maintained that Irwin, utilizing her authority as pastor and congregants' belief that she could communicate with God, accused the teens of sexually abusing minors, among other allegations, in order to enrage church members. She faces 13 felony charges in connection to the incident.
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http://m.uticaod.com/article/20160208/NEWS/160209543
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