Oneida County Court Judge Michael Dwyer ruled Sarah Ferguson not guilty of second degree murder in the Word of Life Church beating death of Lucas Leonard. He did find her guilty of first degree manslaughter for beating Lucas Leonard with the intent to cause serious physical injury and that resulted in his death. She was also found guilty of two counts of assault and two counts of gang assault.
Judge Dwyer, in the bench trial, determined that the prosecution proved all but one point related to the murder charge. Judge Dwyer felt that the prosecution did not show beyond a reasonable doubt that Ferguson was aware of the degree of injury sustained by Lucas Leonard and therefore she could not be found guilty of murder or the manslaughter charge of depraved indifference.
Sentencing for Ferguson is scheduled for September 1, 2016. She is facing up to 20 years on each count.
Judge Dwyer maintained a previously instituted gag order imposed on both sides of the case. Six other people, under indictment in the Word of Life Church beatings, are still facing trial in the early fall.