Bail Revoked for Faith-Healing Couple Charged With Baby Boy's Murder

Couple charged with murder of their baby boy after not providing him with medical care

A Philadelphia judge has revoked bail for parents charged with murder after the couple allegedly chose prayer over medical attention for their sick son.

Herbert Schaible, 45, and his wife Catherine, 44, are charged with third-degree murder and other crimes after their 7-month-old son Brandon died of bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and a group B streptococcus infection in April.

The couple were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2009 for failing to prevent their other son Kyle’s death. The 2-year-old died after contracting pneumonia, an illness prosecutors said could have been prevented with basic medical care.

Instead, the Schaibles prayed for the illness to go away on its own. They received probation in that case.

Part of the couple's probation included ensuring their additional eight children, ranging in age from 7-months to 17-years-old, get regular medical checkups and go to the doctor when there's any sign of illness.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the care was never given and decided to bring murder charges against the couple. The couple's remaining seven children are in foster care.

The Schaibles are part of First Century Gospel Church in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. The church, one of two in the city, believe in faith-healing over modern medicine.

NBC10 has learned at least two dozen children from First Century Gospel and its mother church First Tabernacle Congregation have died since 1971.

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner ordered the couple held without bail during proceedings Friday.

The couple had previously been held on $250,000 bail. However, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams petitioned the court to pull the couple's bail for violating their probation.

Judge Lerner said bail was revoked because the couple is a flight risk. He said the couple could be helped and harbored by other faith-healing believers.

Following the ruling, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore was pleased with the judge's decision.

"Like I said to the judge, this is not a retail theft, it's not a petty crime; somebody is dead now as a result of what they did or didn't do," she said.

The couple's attorney, Bobby Hoff, argued the Schaibles never missed a court date and willingly surrendered.

"He's not a violent criminal, he's not a sophisticated criminal," Hoff said of Herbert Schaible. "He's a father just like the rest of us are."

Judge Lerner granted visitation rights to Catherine Schaible and told the court he would try to arrange visits.

The judge also said he would consider reinstating the couple's bail if they could each raise $25,000 cash.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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