OREGON CITY, Ore. (RNS) Two members of an Oregon church that preaches faith-healing pleaded not guilty Monday (Aug. 30) to manslaughter charges for failing to provide medical care to their infant son, who died shortly after his premature birth.
Attorneys for Dale R. Hickman and Shannon M. Hickman entered the pleas. The Hickmans did not speak during the brief arraignment before Clackamas County Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Jones.
Jones set a Nov. 19 trial date for the Hickmans, who are each charged with second-degree manslaughter. It is likely that the trial will be rescheduled for sometime next year.
The Hickmans, who attend the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City, posted 10 percent of their $500,000 bail and are out on bail. They requested that the bail amount be reduced. A separate hearing will be held on the request.
The Hickmans’ son was born in September 2009, about six weeks premature. He weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces and lived nine hours. No one with medical training attended the birth, and no one called a doctor or ambulance. An autopsy determined the infant died of staph pneumonia and complications from a premature birth, including underdeveloped lungs.
A jury or judge will determine whether the Hickmans were criminally negligent and that their neglect caused the child’s death.
The death of the Hickman baby was the third faith-healing fatality involving children from the church in the past two and a half years.