Mother charged in faith-healing death gets out on bail
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia faith-healing believer charged with murder after a second son died of pneumonia has been granted bail, but her husband must stay in jail.
Officials at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center told The Associated Press on Saturday that Catherine Schaible can live in her parents’ home under electronic monitoring once her $250,000 bail is posted.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a judge on Thursday refused to grant bail for her husband, Herbert.
They are charged with third-degree murder in the April pneumonia death of 8-month-old son Brandon. They had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after their 2-year-old son, Kent, died of pneumonia in 2009. The couple’s seven surviving children are in foster care.
The Schaibles are both third-generation members of the First Century Gospel Church in northeast Phila-delphia.
Herbert Schaible, 44, said in a statement to police that was read in court earlier this year that medicine “is against our religious beliefs,” and his 43-year-old wife said in her statement that “we pray and ask to be healed the way that Jesus did when he was on Earth.”
Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said Friday his decision was made in light of the children’s welfare, the Inquirer said.
“These children have one mother and one father, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing that for months, they have had virtually no contact with either parent,” he said.
Defense attorney Mythri Jayaraman argued that Catherine Schaible was less culpable because the couple’s church taught that a wife must be “submissive to her husband.” Pastor Nelson Clark and Assistant Pastor Ralph Myers of First Century Gospel Church testified that Herbert Schaible made decisions about the welfare of the couple’s children.
“She would have a say, but he would make the decision,” Clark said.
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore argued against treating Catherine Schaible differently from her husband.
“She was that child’s mother, and he was that child’s father, and they both have equal responsibility for that child,” she said.
Clark said under questioning from the judge that he suggested a day or two before Brandon’s death that Herbert Schaible tell his probation officer about the child’s illness, but “he said that if he called anyone, it would be a denial of his faith that God could heal the child.”
Myers testified that Clark asked him to go to the home and help pray over Brandon, and the next day the child’s grandmother asked him to return, saying Brandon hadn’t moved in two hours. When he arrived, the child was dead, Myers said.