Criminal Justice

Judge refuses to drop murder charge against faith-healing parents after a second child dies


A Philadelphia judge refused to dismiss charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter against a faith-healing Pennsylvania couple after they lost a second child to bacterial pneumonia.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible were charged after their 8-month-old son, Brandon, died in April, report the Associated Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. The couple prayed for Brandon’s recovery and did not seek medical help.

The Schaibles were sentenced to 10 years of probation in 2011 for involuntary manslaughter in the death of their 2-year-old son. The couple had relied on prayer rather than medical treatment in that case as well. The Schaibles were required to get medical care for their children as a condition of probation.

Judge Benjamin Lerner noted the condition in a hearing on Wednesday, according to the Inquirer account. “They promised never to let something like this happen again,” Lerner said. “But when push came to shove, they prayed, with no more attention to that promise than a puff of air.”

Defense lawyer Bobby Hoof had argued that Brandon died within three days of coming down with cold and flu symptoms, and there was no evidence of malice, according to AP.

The couple’s seven surviving children are now in foster care.

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