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Indiana Couple Sentenced to 6 Years for Failing to Obtain Medical Care for Their Dying Daughter on Religious Grounds

Aug 13, 2005 | A Johnson County, Indiana, couple (Dewayne and Maleta Schmidt) who were convicted of reckless homicide for failing to obtain appropriate medical attention for their infant daughter, have now been sentenced to six years in prison.

The Schmidts are members of the Church of the Firstborn in Morgantown, a congregation that believes in prayer rather than professional help when faced with a medical problem.

Superior judge Cynthia Emkes said a prison sentence of six years was necessary as a warning that all parents have a responsibility to care for their children's medical needs, regardless of their faith.

The parents will each serve about one year of the sentence in staggered six-month sessions at a Johnson County work release facility.

The remainder of their sentences, will be waived providing the couple complies with the terms of probation, including a provision that they must seek medical help for their two remaining children in the event of life-threatening health problems.

The couple had no comment concerning the sentencing; however, their attorney said that, while they will comply with the judge's orders, they do not plan to change their religious beliefs.

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