Central NY church where 2 brothers brutally abused by pastor, family set on fire, man charged

    New Hartford, N.Y. — The Word of Life Church in Oneida County where two brothers were brutally beaten by family members and a pastor was set on fire this weekend, police said.

    Mark E. Palmano, 43, of New Hartford, was arrested Monday in connection with the fire in the church’s basement, police said. Firefighters were able to put the fire out to avoid a total loss of the building at 3354 Oneida St., they said.

    The church is where brothers Lucas and Christopher Leonard were beaten in October 2015 by his parents, the brothers’ sister, a pastor and others. Lucas later died from his injuries.

    The court proceedings garnered national attention, with local and national journalists covering the trial in Oneida County.

    Nine people were convicted of charges for the beating and death of Lucas and sentenced to jail or prison.

    Officers said Palmano was arrested in December and arraigned for two counts of third-degree arson.

    Palmano was accused of setting fire to Mangia Macrina’s and Zebb’s restaurant, which is currently vacant, after an investigation revealed the cause to be arson, said Michael T. Kowalski, a spokesperson for New Hartford Police Department. A court released him after he was arraigned on the arson charges.

    For the church fire, Palmano was charged with third-degree arson, a felony. He is currently being held at the Oneida County Jail without bail.

    Staff writer Darian Stevenson covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, a story idea, a question or a comment? You can reach her at [email protected]

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