Rhawnhurst couple to be tried in son’s death

Brandon Scott Schaible, just 7 months old, had a ter­rible few days in mid-April, ac­cord­ing to court testi­mony.

The in­fant had diarrhea and was vomit­ing, ir­rit­able and fussy. He had a de­creased ap­pet­ite and was hav­ing trouble breath­ing.

Des­pite his con­di­tion, his par­ents, Her­bert and Cath­er­ine Schaible, did not give their son med­ic­a­tion or take him to a doc­tor.

“My hus­band and I de­cided we wanted to trust God,” Cath­er­ine Schaible told po­lice in a state­ment read in court.

On April 18, at 8:35 p.m., Brandon died at his home at 2229 Rhawn St. in Rhawn­hurst.

Now, his par­ents will be stand­ing tri­al on charges of third-de­gree murder, in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter, en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child and crim­in­al con­spir­acy.

Mu­ni­cip­al Court Judge Charles Hay­den held the Schaibles on all charges at a June 12 pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing. They re­main in cus­tody pending sep­ar­ate bail hear­ings this week and will be ar­raigned on Ju­ly 3. No tri­al date has been set.

The couple have sev­en oth­er chil­dren — four boys and three girls — who were put in the cus­tody of the city De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices.

The Schaibles are life­time mem­bers of First Cen­tury Gos­pel Church, loc­ated at 4557 G St. in Ju­ni­ata. The church be­lieves in pray­er, not med­ic­al care, for phys­ic­al heal­ing.

Brandon is their second child to die. In Janu­ary 2009, 2-year-old Kent Schaible died of bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia after de­vel­op­ing a cold that in­cluded con­ges­tion and a sore throat.

All of the law­yers from that case are the same as today. Joanne Pes­catore is the pro­sec­utor. Bobby Hoof is rep­res­ent­ing Her­bert Schaible. My­thri Ja­yara­man rep­res­ents Cath­er­ine Schaible.

After Kent’s death, the Schaibles were con­victed of in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter and en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child. They were sen­tenced to 10 years pro­ba­tion, a de­cision sup­por­ted by Pes­catore.

As part of the sen­ten­cing in that case, the Schaibles were ordered to take their oth­er chil­dren to a med­ic­al prac­ti­tion­er when they are sick.

Brandon was taken to the city health clin­ic on Cottman Av­en­ue 10 days after his birth, and his moth­er told po­lice in a state­ment that the doc­tor de­scribed him as a “very healthy baby.”

Last week’s hear­ing fea­tured testi­mony from Dr. Gary Collins, a city deputy chief med­ic­al ex­am­iner who per­formed an autopsy on Brandon. Hom­icide De­tect­ive James Crone and Bri­an Peters, who took state­ments from the Schaibles on the night of their son’s death, also test­i­fied.

Collins said Brandon had a sunken eye sock­et, dry lips and a rash on his scalp. He had no wounds or trau­mat­ic in­jur­ies. He ruled that the boy died of bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia in com­bin­a­tion with de­hyd­ra­tion.

The doc­tor said Brandon, who was not cough­ing and did not have a fever, could have lived if he had been giv­en an­ti­bi­ot­ics and flu­ids.

On cross-ex­am­in­a­tion by de­fense at­tor­neys, Collins in­dic­ated that Brandon could have de­veloped the bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia just a day be­fore his death.

Crone in­ter­viewed Cath­er­ine Schaible, who told him that a church pas­tor came to the fam­ily home to pray for the sick child.

“We be­lieve in di­vine heal­ing,” she said.

Mrs. Schaible de­scribed her son as “rest­less.” He was cry­ing, and she and her hus­band held him. He was not sleep­ing well.

“He was breath­ing heav­ier than I liked,” she said.

Peters in­ter­viewed Her­bert Schaible, a teach­er at the First Cen­tury school. He de­scribed his son’s con­di­tion as “real bad” on the day he died.

The Schaibles and two of their daugh­ters held him and rocked him on a liv­ing room re­cliner.

Peters asked Schaible why he and his wife did not take Brandon to a doc­tor.

“It’s against our re­li­gious be­liefs,” he said.

Schaible said he does not re­gret fail­ing to make sure Brandon re­ceived med­ic­al care, but ad­ded that he would change places with his two de­ceased sons.

De­fense at­tor­neys asked Hay­den to throw out the charges of third-de­gree murder and in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter.

“He did not know the baby was sick enough to die,” Hoof said of his cli­ent. “He did everything he could to take care of his son.”

Pes­catore poin­ted to the couple’s fail­ure to ad­here to the court or­der to seek med­ic­al at­ten­tion if their chil­dren are sick. She said they showed a lack of caring for a boy who had trouble breath­ing and had oth­er med­ic­al is­sues.

“They did noth­ing to help that child,” she said.

Out­side the court­house, Hoof de­scribed his cli­ent as a “griev­ing” fath­er. He said three days is not an un­reas­on­able amount of time for a par­ent to take a sick child to a doc­tor.

Pes­catore dis­agrees.

“That child should have been taken to a doc­tor,” she said. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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