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Victim involved in NY church beating death out of hospital, will testify

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. -- A 17-year-old boy who was beaten inside his upstate New York church in an attack that killed his older brother has been released from the hospital and is expected to testify against two suspects in the case.

New Hartford police say Christopher Leonard was released from the hospital over the weekend and is under the supervision of Oneida County Child Protective Services.

Police say two teenage brothers were punched ... 02:06

Police say he and 19-year-old Lucas Leonard were beaten by their parents, sister and three other church members inside the Word of Life Christian Church on Oct. 11. Authorities believe the attack was prompted by the brothers' desire to leave the church.

The teens suffered injuries to the abdomen, genitals, back and thighs during an hours-long attack after services "in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness," Police Chief Michael Inserra said.

After Lucas Leonard was taken to the hospital, police suspected his younger brother had been hurt, too, but his relatives wouldn't tell officers where he was, the chief said. After searching for hours, police found him on the second floor of the church, housed in a red-brick former elementary school.

All six suspects have pleaded not guilty.

Christopher Leonard is set to testify Wednesday at a hearing on assault charges against his sister and a man.

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