An Oregon couple who allowed their infant son to die by choosing prayer over modern medicine will be forced to serve time in prison after their final appeal was denied by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Late last week the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the manslaughter convictions and prison sentences for Dale and Shannon Hickman whose newborn baby died after they chose faith healing over medical treatment.
David Hickman, the couple’s infant son, died in 2009 from a bacterial infection in his lungs. Born two months premature, weighing only 3 pounds and 7 ounces, David only lived for an agonizing nine hours.
At their original trial in 2011 a jury found that the Hickman’s choice of prayer over modern medicine resulted in the death of the tiny infant, and that young David Hickman would have survived if the Hickmans would have sought medical attention, as any reasonable parent would have done.
When originally sentencing the faith healing parents, Clackamas County Judge Robert Herndon told the Hickman’s they could have easily kept their son alive by simply seeking appropriate medical care.
The Hickmans appealed their conviction on the grounds that the prosecution had the burden to prove the couple knew their religious beliefs would cause the death of their child. But the plea was rejected by the Oregon Supreme Court last week.
The Hickman’s belong to the Followers of Christ church located in Oregon City, Oregon. The church preaches faith-healing and rejects modern medicine in favor of prayer and other spiritual practices such as anointing the sick with oil. The church is notorious for allowing sick children to suffer and even die rather than seeking medical attention.
Dale and Shannon Hickman will each spend a minimum of 6 years and 3 months in prison for their crime.