Saying that it was they who killed their son and not God or religious devotion, a judge Wednesday sentenced a Philadelphia couple to three and a half to seven years in state prison for praying for their pneumonia-stricken baby instead following a court order to take him to a doctor.
Herbert and Catherine Schaible, of the city's Rhawnhurst section, each apologized for the April death of 7-month-old Brandon and said despite their religious beliefs in prayer over medicine, they would take their seven surviving children to doctors in the future.
Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner also sentenced the couple to 30 months of supervised probation after they are released from prison.
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, at times appearing on the verge of tears, denounced the couple for Brandon's death and for the death of another son, Kent, 2, who died in 2009 of the same ailment and under the same circumstances.
She asked Lerner to sentence the couple to eight to 16 years in prison.
"God gave you these children to protect, to take care of. They are precious," said Pescatore, who won involuntary manslaughter convictions against the couple for Brandon's death.
"They didn't even give that baby Tylenol. What were you thinking? What were you thinking?" she demanded of the couple, who sat silently listening.
Herbert, 45, and Catherine, 44, lifelong members of the faith-healing First Century Gospel Church in Juniata Park, pleaded guilty in November to third-degree murder, child endangerment and conspiracy in Brandon's death.
The baby died at the family's home April 18 of bacterial pneumonia. He suffered for several days while his parents prayed for him.
At the time, the Schaibles were on probation for the death of Kent, who also died at their home.
After Kent's death, the couple was tried and convicted in December 2010. They were sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to get medical care for their surviving children on a regular and as-needed basis.