Deborah Leonard, appearing visibly shaken and soft-spoken, made her first court appearance since a felony hearing in October.

“You would readily admit that you struck Lucas with a cord,” Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara asserted to Leonard in court. 

Leonard pleaded guilty to two counts of assault: one in the first degree for the death of her son Lucas and one in the second degree for the beating of Christopher Leonard.

“You did not have the desire to get him medical attention,” Judge Dwyer told Leonard.

She testified her son Lucas no longer wanted to attend Word of Life, which resulted in a nearly fifteen hour counseling session led by pastor Tiffanie Irwin, who Deborah believed to be a prophet from God.

“Were certain things told to you by Pastor Tiffanie that led you believe that she spoke to God,” McNamara asked Leonard. “In the past, yes,” she responded.

And for the first time, Deborah admitted to participating in the beatings of her children.

“I hit them with my hand and I went to punch them and injured my knuckle and zipper,” Leonard said.

Leonard said she felt too scared and afraid to speak out at the time of the beatings, but one of her other children spoke up, saying the allegations against Christopher and Lucas were false