‘Faith heal’ parents plead no contest to murder charges

A Rhawn­hurst couple whose be­lief in faith heal­ing led to the April death of their 8-month-old son pleaded no con­test to murder and re­lated charges last week.

The pleas amount to con­vic­tions for Her­bert and Cath­er­ine Schaible, who will be sen­tenced by Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Ben­jamin Lern­er on Feb. 19. The murder charges alone carry a pos­sible sen­tence of 20 to 40 years in pris­on. 

Ac­cord­ing to pro­sec­utors, the mar­ried couple’s son Brandon de­veloped bac­teri­al pneu­mo­nia last April, but the Schaibles failed to sum­mon med­ic­al help for him. In­stead, they con­tac­ted lead­ers of their church, First Cen­tury Gos­pel in Ju­ni­ata Park, and prayed. Brandon died at the couple’s home on April 18.

At the time, the par­ents were still on pro­ba­tion for in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter con­vic­tions stem­ming from the 2009 death of an­oth­er son, 2-year-old Kent, un­der sim­il­ar cir­cum­stances. They could face ad­di­tion­al pris­on time for vi­ol­at­ing pro­ba­tion.

In the latest case, each par­ent was con­victed of en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child and con­spir­acy in ad­di­tion to third-de­gree murder. Her­bert Schaible re­mains in pris­on in lieu of $250,000 bail. Cath­er­ine Schaible was re­leased from pris­on after post­ing 10 per­cent of $250,000 bail, but re­mains un­der house ar­rest and elec­tron­ic mon­it­or­ing at her par­ents’ North­east home. The Schaibles have sev­en sur­viv­ing chil­dren ages 8 to 17. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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