Parents to be tried for son's death

Oct. 8, 2009 at 9:03 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia couple face trial for failing to get medical care for their 2-year-old son, instead praying over the boy before his death from pneumonia.

A judge ruled Wednesday that Herbert and Catherine Schaible can be tried for involuntary manslaughter, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore argued during a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court that Kent Schaible's illness, bacterial pneumonia, would have responded to simple treatment. The boy was sick for more than a week before his death in January.

The Schaibles are members of First Century Gospel Church, a congregation that rejects medical treatment. But their lawyers argued they believed their son only had a cold.

Pescatore said parents cannot make life or death decisions for their children, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"They can refuse medical treatment," she said. "They can be martyrs if they want. They can do that because they're adults, not a child."

In 1991, public health officials blamed a measles outbreak that killed eight children on the failure of members of First Century and another church to get their children vaccinated. Two years later, a son of First Century members was hospitalized under court order after he was hit by a car.

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