Three members of the Irwin family appeared in Oneida County Court this morning for a motions hearing, part of the Word of Life Church homicide case. Standing in front of Judge Michael Dwyer was Traci Irwin, widow of the Chadwick church’s founder Jerry Irwin, Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of the church and daughter of Traci, and Daniel Irwin, son of Traci, brother of Tiffanie and a deacon in the church.
Pastor Tiffanie Irwin is facing 13 counts from a November indictment. Those charges include two counts each of murder, two counts of manslaughter, five counts of kidnapping, two counts of assault and two counts of gang assault. Traci Irwin was indicted on nine counts involved in the case. Daniel Irwin was indicted on six counts.
Tiffanie Irwin was the first in the courtroom. Her case presents some unique issues and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara acknowledges that Tiffanie may need to be tried separately. The issue surrounds Tiffanie Irwin’s role as church pastor. DA McNamara argued that any clergy privilege should not apply to the “counseling session” where the beating took place because no information was confided to the pastor and there was the presence of a third party. Judge Dwyer said that he would rule on the motion Thursday morning.
The judge’s rulings on motions for Traci Irwin and her son Daniel will also be released Thursday.
October 11, 2015, following church services in Chadwicks, 19 year old Lucas Leonard and his brother, 17 year old Christopher Leonard, were beaten, allegedly by church members, that included their parents and half-sister. Lucas Leonard died of his injuries.
Tuesday morning, six charges were dismissed against Sarah Ferguson, the half-sister of the victims. All of the charges dropped against Ferguson were related to kidnapping.
The three remaining defendants will appear in court later this week; Linda Morey on Thursday and Joseph Irwin along with Bruce Leonard, father of the victims, on Friday.