OKANOGAN, Wash., March 6 (UPI) -- A Carlton, Wash., couple pleaded not guilty in the death of their son, who died of a burst appendix despite his family's attempts to heal him through prayer.
Gregory and Garnet Swezey, members of a Christian church that believes in faith healing, appeared in Okanogan County Superior Court Monday to answer a charge of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of their son Zachary, 17.
Zachery was treated by his parents and elders of the Church of the First Born with prayer for his recovery and anointing with olive oil, court documents said. He died of a ruptured appendix.
Investigators say his parents thought he had the flu.
The charge in court alleges "criminal mistreatment" of Zachary by his parents and is punishable by life imprisonment and a fine.
At the time of death the father said he knew Zachery was about to die but did not call for an ambulance. He told Okanogan County Sheriff's detectives he asked his son if he wanted to go to a hospital, but Zachery declined, charging documents indicate.
The trial will begin May 1.