Oregon faith healing couple defending use of prayer for baby son rather than calling 911; defense rests
On September 28, 2011 At 9:18 am
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Previously we reported on the Oregon faith healing couple Dale and Shannon Hickman, members of the cult faith healing Followers of Christ Church, who, instead of calling 911, when faced with the medical emergency of their son, David, used prayer and anointing oil. Defense attorneys have rested their case, and after closing arguments today, jurors will deliberate.
The Hickmans' responses to questions from their attorneys and prosecutors were at times tearful, terse or testy.
Their answers also shed some light on the religious beliefs and practices of the Followers of Christ, the Oregon City faith-healing church that the Hickmans and their relatives have attended for generations. The Hickmans said they never considered calling 9-1-1 after David was born because the baby's condition changed instantly, and he died within minutes.
David was premature but healthy, pink and crying and the Hickmans said they saw no reason to panic.
Dale Hickman said he went to sleep around 10 p.m., about 4 1/2 hours after the birth, "looking forward to the next day."
Hickman said he was awakened around 2:15 a.m. by a female relative who was caring for the baby while the couple slept. David struggled to breathe, was ashen and listless, said Hickman, who held his son and anointed him with oil, a common faith-healing ritual. The baby died minutes later.
Prosecutors said evidence shows Hickman may have been alerted as much as 45 minutes before the death and that the parents had plenty of time to seek medical help.
When you recognized he was dying you still did not call 9-1-1, said prosecutor Mike Regan.
"I did not," Dale Hickman said
"You did not know how much longer he would live, did you?" Regan said. Why didn't you call 9-1-1 at that moment of crisis, he asked.
"Because I was praying," Hickman responded.
After hearing pediatricians testify that David had a 99.9 percent chance of surviving with medical care, do you still believe nothing could have been done to save your son, Regan asked?
"Yeah, I still believe that," Dale Hickman said.
Even when Hickman was questioned by his own attorney, Mark Cogan, he was hesitant to say he would have called 9-1-1 for David. If you thought your son could have benefited from a doctor, would you have sought medical care for him, Cogan asked."I put my faith in God, and I can't say in every situation what I would do," Hickman said.
Although Shannon Hickman professed devotion to her children — the couple has a 7-year-old daughter and a 3-month-old son — she said she follows a biblical directive to always defer to her husband.