Parents acquitted for murder after faith healing fails

Faith-healing parents acquitted of murder charge.

A faith-healing Washington couple accused of being criminally responsible for their teenage son’s death for failing to call a doctor have been acquitted of second-degree murder charges.

Zachery Swezey was 17 when he died at his Carlton home of a ruptured appendix in March 2009.

Jurors were told the couple belong to the Church of the First Born, which believes in faith healing. The Swezeys told investigators they thought their son had the flu. They also said the boy chose not to see a doctor.

Tip: @blue_wode via Twitter

This teenager could have lived had he gotten medical attention right away. Faith did not heal or save him.

But at least “The couple did call church elders to pray for him and anoint him with olive oil.” Cause we know that ALWAYS works. It’s difficult not to be disgusted at such ignorance.

The jury had trouble with making a decision. Because the boy was old enough to choose? Is this a fair choice?

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  6 comments for “Parents acquitted for murder after faith healing fails

  1. Katherine
    May 16, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Yes, the kid was 17, but is a 17-year-old who’s raised to believe in faith healing in lieu of modern medical care really capable of making a rational decision about their own medical care? I doubt it. And even if he was capable of making that decision, can you imagine the emotional turmoil of going against your parents and your community on something like that? Yes, I think a 17-year-old can make rational choices, but in that situation he wasn’t really given the opportunity even if he was asked whether he wanted medical care. I can’t believe the parents were acquitted.

    • May 16, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      That’s kind of how I saw it, too. It does make for an argument that religious indoctrination by parents is harmful.

  2. Ghostbusterbuster
    May 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Outrageous but not unexpected. Obviously, the child did not have the tools to make the life saving decision, but in his view he thought he was making the correct one. And that is sad. His parents did not kill him by not getting him the help, they killed him by instilling the belief that wishful thinking can cure cute deadly illnesses.
    I would wager that more than one member of the jury actually respected the negligent parents for the depth of their faith.
    They are certainly accountable. They know (and have probably seen) people die from things that they are fully aware can easily be treated. If they are saying that they are not aware of the fact that modern medicine is a more effective tool than praying, they are lying.

  3. Xenolan
    May 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Admittedly, I wasn’t in to courtroom. But based on my limited knowledge, I would have voted for acquittal as well. Not because the parents are guiltless, but because I would not consider them guilty of MURDER. Second-degree murder requires an INTENT to kill or do serious harm. The parents, though misguided, ignorant, and just plain stupid, most likely did not actually want their child to die.

    If these parents committed a crime, it was Involuntary Manslaughter, not Murder. That is the charge that should have been brought.

    • May 23, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      That is a very good point. Thanks for commenting.

    • snoma
      May 23, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      Xenolan, you make a good point there. I too am a bit surprised that the charge was murder. Like you said, Involuntary manslaughter was probably the more correct charge to have been brought up.

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