(Oregon, Oct. 31) After being found guilty in September of 2nd degree murder in the death of their infant son, David, Dale and Shannon Hickman were today sentenced to 6 years in prison by Clackamas County Judge Robert Herndon. Both parents are members of the Followers of Christ Church, an Oregon City congregation that shuns medical treatment in favor of faith healing and has a long history of preventable child and adult deaths.
David, who was born 2 months premature, lived for only 9 hours. An autopsy revealed he’d had staph pneumonia and underdeveloped lungs.
From a Sept. 29 article in Oregon Live:
A pediatric expert who testified at the 10-day trial said the baby had a 99.9 percent chance of surviving if he had been taken to a hospital — the standard response for premature babies born at home. Even defense medical experts agreed hospitalization was the right choice.
The Hickmans said they knew the baby was born early but believed he would survive. When he turned blue, gasped for breath and lost consciousness, the Hickmans prayed but did not attempt to get medical help.
From an Oct. 31 article in Oregon Live:
“As the evidence unfolded and the witnesses testified, it became evident to me and certainly to the jury … that this death just simply did not need to occur,” said Herndon, referencing that the jury had come back with a verdict in a “stunningly” short time.
The six year sentence for the couple is the minimum required under the state’s Measure 11 sentencing guidelines. This is the fourth trial over preventable child deaths for members of the Followers of Christ Church in the last three years. In March of 2011, the Oregon legislature approved a bill that removed legal protection for parents who choose faith healing over medical intervention when treating their children. This has made it easier to gain convictions in cases such as this.
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