May 8, 2016

Word of Life Church case: Linda Morey's alleged statements examined

Micaela Parker / Observer-Dispatch Word of Life Christian Church defendant Linda Morey walks out of Oneida County Court on Thursday, May 5, 2016.

By Micaela Parker 
Posted May 5, 2016 at 1:44 PM

A defendant in the Word of Life Christian Church case appeared in court Thursday for a hearing to examine statements she made to law enforcement and how physical evidence was seized from her.

Linda Morey, 55, is one of nine people accused of varying degrees of involvement in a 14-hour October counseling session at the Chadwicks church that involved beating 19-year-old Lucas Leonard, who died of his injuries, and 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, who was injured seriously. Of those defendants, one has accepted a plea offer.

The bulk of the hearing centered around statements Morey allegedly made to law enforcement. Here's some of the highlights:

* New Hartford Police Officer James Hyatt testified that he was tasked with picking up Linda Morey from the Willowvale Fire Department on Oct. 12. Morey came voluntarily, he said, and was treated as a witness. 

* New York State Police Investigator Todd Grant testified that she interviewed Morey and several of her co-defendants on Oct. 13 at the New Hartford Police Department. He said before he even got the chance to Mirandize Morey, she asked if “the children were okay” and if she needed a lawyer. 

* Grant testified that he read Morey her Miranda Rights and told her she could request legal counsel and stop speaking to him at any time. Grant said Morey eventually told him and another investigator that “she had nothing to hide.”

* Grant testified that Morey described her interaction with the teens during the counseling session as “stomping on the ground forcibly in front of them and slapping Christopher and pushing both of them.” Christopher had a bloody nose, Morey is alleged to have said, but added that “he always gets bloody noses.”

* Grant testified that Morey said she noticed Lucas was bleeding during the counseling session and said she thought he should be taken to a hospital.

* Grant testified that Morey said she had been texting Traci Irwin during the counseling session. During the interview itself, she received a phone call from church pastor Tiffanie Irwin, in which Grant testified that she advised Morey to get an attorney. After that phone call, Morey requested an attorney.

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