A three-judge panel of Pennsylvania's Superior Court on Tuesday affirmed the sentences of Herbert and Catherine Schaible, the Rhawnhurst couple whose 8-month-old son died of pneumonia in April 2013 because they believed in healing through prayer, not medicine.
The appeals panel unanimously affirmed the 31/2 to 7 years in prison imposed on each by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office challenged the sentences as too lenient but the appeals court ruled that Lerner's sentence was within his judicial discretion and did not violate the law.
The Schaibles, members of a Juniata Park Christian congregation, pleaded no-contest to third-degree murder last year in the death of their son Brandon. At the time, the Schaibles were on 10 years' probation for the 2009 death of another son, 2, who also died of pneumonia as they prayed.
Herbert Schaible, 47, is in the Retreat state prison in Luzerne County; Catherine Schaible, 46, is in the state prison at Cambridge Springs in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The couple's seven surviving children are in foster care. - Joseph A. Slobodzian