Criminal Justice

On probation for manslaughter in child's death, couple again relies on prayer and sees a baby die

Sentenced to 10 years of probation in 2011 after their toddler died of bacterial pneumonia, Herbert and Catherine Schaible were back in court again on Monday, following the death last week of an eight-month-old baby.

By again relying on prayer instead of seeking medical treatment for their son, Brandon, the couple violated the most important condition of their probation in the earlier manslaughter case, a Philadelphia judge told them. However, Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner declined to jail the two while he makes a final decision in their probation violation case because he sees them as a danger to their other children—who are now in foster care—rather than the general public, according to the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It could not be clearer from your statements that you knew he was sick several days before he died,” Lerner said of Brandon, “that he was getting worse and having problems with his breathing.”

Prosecutors are awaiting autopsy results before deciding whether to bring new criminal charges.

The Schaibles are members of a fundamentalist church that views medical care as a sin demonstrative of a lack of faith in God, the AP reports.

Attorney Mythri Jayaraman, who represents Catherine Schaible, described the couple as good parents and urged against a rush to judgment.

“There are way more questions than answers at this point. We haven’t seen the autopsy report. We don’t know the cause of death of this child,” Jayaraman said in an Associated Press interview. “What we do know is Mr. and Mrs. Schaible are distraught, they are grieving, they are tremendously sad about the loss of their most recent baby.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.