Faith-Healing Couple Convicted in Son's Death

The Pennsylvania parents who turned to prayer instead of medicine as their son died of bacteria pneumonia were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment Friday.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible could face five to 10 years in prison for the manslaughter charge and 3-1/2 to seven years for endangering the welfare of a child in the 2009 death of their 2-year-old son.

The couple, who have six other children, must await until Feb. 2 to be sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Engel Temin. Bail was set at $150,000 pending that hearing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said she was not sure whether she would ask for prison time for two felonies.

During the trial, defense attorneys argued that faith played no part in the parents' decision to forgo medical care for their son, Kent Schaible. They said the couple thought their son was suffering from a severe cold and was not very sick.

The defense witness, a high-profile forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, testified that a fast-moving strain of bacteria could have killed him within hours of his death.

The Schaibles did not take the stand during the four-day trial.

According to the Inquirer, the prosecution argued that Kent's death could have been prevented if the couple had sought medical help instead of relying on their beliefs in faith healing.

A statement made by Herbert Schaible to homicide detectives was read during the trial, in which he said, "We tried to fight the devil, but in the end the devil won."

Assistant Medical Examiner Edwin Lieberman testified that his symptoms of fever, coughing, diarrhea, and lethargy indicated something more serious than a cold and that medical treatment could have prevented his death, as reported by the Inquirer.

Herbert, 42, teaches at a school run by the couple's church, First Century Gospel Church, and Catherine, 41, is a stay-at-home mother.

The church states on its website that it does not believe God permits sickness or diseases but instead that anything bad is caused by sin and the devil.

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