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