Couple charged with murder for choosing faith healing over medical care in newborn's death

Travis and Sarah Mitchell (Photo: Clackamas County Sheriff)

OREGON CITY, Ore. (KGW) - The parents of a baby girl who died just hours after birth have been charged with murder for allegedly relying on their faith instead of medical assistance to save the girl.

KGW-TV reports Sarah and Travis Mitchell were arrested Monday on charges of murder and criminal mistreatment in the death of one of the couple's newborn twin girls March 5. Police say the second girl developed complications breathing during the birth and died a few hours later.

The Mitchells are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which believes in using prayer and oil over medical care.

Investigators say members of the Mitchell family, church members and three midwives were at the family's home for the birth of the twins, but no one called 911 when the younger child began having trouble.

A church elder called the county medical examiner after the baby died. The examiner determined the surviving twin also required medical care and called police, who convinced the Mitchells to seek professional medical help for the girl.

According to KGW, Sarah Mitchell's sister, Shannon Hickman, and her husband Dale, were convicted of manslaughter in 2011 following the death of their infant son. They were sentenced to six years in prison.

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