HERBERT AND Catherine Schaible, the devoutly religious parents charged with murdering their baby because they failed to get him medical care, are a potential flight risk and therefore must stay in jail, a Philadelphia judge ruled yesterday.
The Schaibles, charged with third-degree murder in the April death of 7-month-old Brandon, have been on probation since 2011 for involuntary manslaughter convictions in the 2009 death of another son, Kent, who was 2.
Both boys died of bacterial pneumonia in the family's Rhawnhurst home after the couple prayed over their ailing bodies instead of taking them to doctors. In additon to receiving 10-year probation terms for Kent's death, the couple was ordered to make sure their surviving children had medical care on a regular basis, and as needed.
They violated the terms of their probation by not taking Brandon to a doctor, Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner said yesterday.
"When this happened the first time around, they had a reason to believe, due to their faith, that others saw it the way they saw it and they may have thought they wouldn't be convicted," Lerner said of the couple, who remained in jail during the hearing.
"That's changed dramatically now. Nobody in their position could fail to realize . . . they are both facing the real possibility of a substantial jail sentence," the judge added.
On Thursday, at the request of prosecutors, Lerner stayed a ruling that granted the couple bail at $250,000 a piece.
Lerner's most recent ruling means that even if the couple comes up with the bail money, they cannot be released from jail unless the judge agrees to free them.
After hearing the couples' lawyers argue that they were not a flight risk based on the fact that they had been to every court hearing since Brandon's death, Lerner countered that he was concerned that they could be harbored by similar-minded religious groups across the country and even abroad.
"Mr. Schaible is not a sophisticated criminal," argued attorney Bobby Hoof, who added that Herbert, 44, was of "meager financial means."
Attorney Mythri Jayaraman said Catherine, 43, "is a law-abiding woman who will come to court as she has done time and time again."
But Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore took a hard stance on the couple that she prosecuted for Kent's death.
"They don't get it. They don't get why they are here. This is not a retail-theft case, judge," Pescatore said.
"These are people who thumb their nose at the law and because of that, their 8-month-old child is dead."
The couple, whose seven children are in foster care, will be in court June 12 for a preliminary hearing for the third-degree murder charge in Brandon's death.