Parents face charges in second death

A Rhawn­hurst couple, who pro­sec­utors said prayed over their sick 7-month-old son in­stead of seek­ing med­ic­al at­ten­tion for him, re­main in jail on charges of third-de­gree murder, with a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing sched­uled for June 12.

At­tor­neys for Her­bert and Cath­er­ine Schaible, of the 2200 block of Rhawn St., ar­gued un­suc­cess­fully on Fri­day in front of Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Ben Lern­er that their cli­ents should be freed, at least un­til their pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing.

In­stead, Lern­er ruled that the Schaibles — he is 44, she is 43 — should stay be­hind bars be­cause they are po­ten­tial flight risks. They are also charged with in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter, con­spir­acy and en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child in the April 18 death of their son Brandon.

The couple 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. Lern­er said that he didn’t want church mem­bers around the coun­try with sim­il­ar views har­bor­ing them from justice.

“It was ab­so­lutely ap­pro­pri­ate in this case,” said As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Joanne Pes­catore.

De­fense at­tor­neys Bobby Hoof, for Her­bert Schaible, and My­thri Ja­yara­man, for his wife, said the pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing date could change.

“It’s kind of early to say if we’ll be ready for that day,” said Hoof, not­ing that they just re­ceived the autopsy re­port for Brandon Schaible.

Brandon died of bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia, de­hyd­ra­tion and strep after sev­er­al days of be­ing sick. Pro­sec­utors, who charged his par­ents on May 22, said he could have eas­ily been treated with an­ti­bi­ot­ics.

The young­ster is the second child in his fam­ily to die.

Back in Janu­ary 2009, 2-year-old Kent Schaible died of bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia after de­vel­op­ing a cold that in­cluded con­ges­tion and a sore throat. 

Hoof and Ja­yara­man rep­res­en­ted them at that time. Pes­catore was the pro­sec­utor. 

At that time, the Schaibles were con­victed of in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter and en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child and sen­tenced to 10 years pro­ba­tion by Judge Car­o­lyn En­gel Temin, who said, “A pris­on sen­tence is not called for in this case.”

Pes­catore agreed with the sen­tence back then, but is tak­ing a hard line this time.

“Their second child is dead. Dead,” she said in court, adding that the Schaibles thumb their noses at the law.

Temin also ordered them to take their oth­er chil­dren to a med­ic­al prac­ti­tion­er when they are sick. 

After leav­ing the courtroom on Feb. 2, 2011, Her­bert Schaible was asked wheth­er he would com­ply with that or­der. He replied, “We have no com­ment.”

The Schaibles have sev­en oth­er chil­dren, four sons and three daugh­ters, who are in tem­por­ary foster care. They are ages 3 to 17.

Lern­er, dur­ing Fri­day’s 30-minute hear­ing, in­dic­ated that he might al­low the Schaibles, ac­com­pan­ied by sher­iff’s depu­ties or pris­on guards, to see their chil­dren out­side a pris­on en­vir­on­ment.

Ja­yara­man said her cli­ent is “still griev­ing for her son.”

Hoof de­scribed his cli­ent as “res­ol­ute” and “a fath­er, just like the rest of us,” who takes his sons to Phil­lies games.

“He’s a sol­id cit­izen. He’s a good fath­er to his chil­dren,” the at­tor­ney said.

Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams is out­raged at the couple’s fail­ure to seek a doc­tor’s care for their son Brandon.

“The death of 7-month-old Brandon Schaible is a tragedy,” he said dur­ing a May 22 news con­fer­ence. “Sadly, there is only one reas­on for it — the crim­in­al ac­tions of the par­ents. In­stead of caring for and nur­tur­ing him, they ul­ti­mately caused his death by pray­ing over his body in­stead of tak­ing him to the doc­tor.” ••

Dave Warner con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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