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Prosecution rests in Followers of Christ faith-healing trial


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Nothing really new But that of course the professional prayers did not think anything could be wrong with a premie baby. they are so well at birthing of course. Of course Elaine Nichols the aunt was not concerned about the child when it died on her. But she did leave the church so hopefully she learned something.

Steve Mayes, The Oregonian

Published: Sep 22, 2011 6:09 PM

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OREGON CITY – Three relatives of Dale and Shannon Hickman said Wednesday they didn't notice anything unusual or troubling about the health of the couple's newborn son until minutes before the baby died.

The Hickmans are charged in Clackamas County Circuit Court with second-degree manslaughter for failing to provide medical care for their son, David, who was born two months early and lived nine hours. The Oregon City couple -- and others at the birth -- attended the Followers of Christ church, an Oregon City congregation that rejects medical care and relies on prayer and faith-healing rituals to treat illness.

None of those at the birth go to doctors.

Prosecutors, who rested their case Thursday, said the Hickmans committed a crime when they refused to take their fragile son, David, to a hospital or call 9-1-1 while he was dying. The Hickmans would never have called for medical help because doing so would violate their religious beliefs, prosecutors said.

The three witnesses at times seemed unable or unwilling to answer questions or unable to recall events surrounding David's sudden death two years ago.

Elaine Nichols, Shannon Hickman's aunt, was caring for David in the early morning of Sept. 27, 2009, shortly before the infant died of respiratory distress. Nichols said she was not concerned about David's prematurity or low birth weight. "He was strong and crying pretty good," Nichols said.

"To you, this little 3 1/2 pound baby was normal?" asked prosecutor Mike Regan.

Yes, Nichols relied.

Previous coverage

» The Hickman case

» The Followers of Christ

Nichols said she noticed David started "fading," but she found it difficult to explain what she observed. "It's hard to say unless you've seen somebody" in that condition, she said.

"Did you view that as an emergency?" Reagan said.

"Yes ... but I didn't think of calling anybody" other than immediate family members who were sleeping, Nichols said.

Nichols may have been nervous because she and her husband left the Followers of Christ several months ago and she faced a courtroom packed with church members.

Shelly Smith, who shared child care duty with Nichols that night, said she "didn't notice anything troubling or concerning" about David until the "color just left him."

Was this an emergency? Regan asked.

"I don't know what emergency means," said Smith, Shannon Hickman's sister-in-law. What if someone's life was threatened, "was this one of those moments?" Regan asked.

"Threatened by who," Smith replied.

"Threatened period," Regan said.

"Was this a test of Dale's faith?" Regan asked.

"It may have been," Smith said, "but it's not for me to answer."

The final witness was Shannon Hickman's teenage sister, Sarah White. She was not present at the birth, which occurred at her parents home, but was awakened when David's condition became dire.

She recalled seeing her mother, Karen White, "trying to wake up the baby."

Sarah White found it difficult to catalog the evening's events.

"Time stops," she said.

-- Steve Mayes

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I hope the child was not in any pain. But of course it had to be. :( What is wrong with these people? For the record, I will gladly take any babies that a fundie has not the inclination to care for.

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