Parents take stand in faith-healing trial

Oregon City, USA - An Oregon City couple accused of manslaughter took the stand in their own defense Tuesday.

Dale and Shannon Hickman belong to the Followers of Christ Church and did not seek medical help when their son was born two months early.

Little David Hickman died exactly two years ago Tuesday in his grandmother's home, attended by church members, including unlicensed midwives.

"Why did you not take him to the hospital?" asked prosecutor Mike Reagan.

Dale Hickman answered, "He didn't need it."

Because the Hickman's did not ask for medical help when Shannon Hickman went into labor nor after the premature birth, the prosecution charged second-degree manslaughter.

"Now, do you think there is nothing you could have done?" the district attorney asked.

"No," Dale Hickman replied.

But the prosecution considers David Hickman a victim of manslaughter.

However, the defense offered a video taken within the first hour of the infant's life showing a tiny, but apparently healthy, boy.

The exhausted parents testified they feel asleep.

Others fed the baby and kept him warm but awakened Dale Hickman several hours later when the baby struggled to breathe.

"I only held him for minutes before he passed," Dale Hickman said. "No one could have done anything."

"You could have called a doctor?" the prosecutor asked him.

"I could have," Dale Hickman replied.

"You could have done Internet research, but you chose not to, correct?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," Dale Hickman responded.

Shannon Hickman testified that men in her church make the decisions, but both Hickman's said that church members who seek medical care are not ostracized.

She testified she did not object to the decision to treat their son only by anointing with oil and laying on of hands.

"I didn't even see him until after his death," Shannon Hickman testified. "He was perfectly formed."

The defendants are the last witnesses for the defense.

Closing arguments are scheduled for late Wednesday morning.