Faith healer takes stand in son's homicide trial

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by KGW.com and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM

OREGON CITY, Ore. -- The father to 16-year-old Neil Beagley took the stand Wednesday in defense against charges that he killed his son by relying on faith, not medicine, to heal him.

After several days of testimony the Oregon City courthouse was packed to hear Beagley defend himself.

Jeff and Marci Beagley allegedly failed to provide adequate medical care for their son. Neil died in 2008 of an untreated urinary tract blockage. His parents were charged with criminally negligent homicide.

"We try to put God first and others second and try to hold our faith to that," Jeff said, after taking the stand Wednesday.  "If not, we end up in the hospital."

Prosecutors asked Beagley how important his church was to his life. He said it had taught him how to be good to people.

"It's given me a sense of values - and to treat others as I'd want to be treated," he said.

The Beagleys are also the parents of Raylene Worthington, whose 15-month-old daughter — the Beagleys' granddaughter — died in 2008 of pneumonia and a blood infection.

Worthington and her husband, Carl Brent Worthington, were acquitted of manslaughter in the girl's death. But a jury convicted Carl Brent Worthington of criminal mistreatment.

When asked about his granddaughter's death, Beagley became very emotional and cried on the stand.

The Oregon Legislature changed state law on faith healing in 1999 after a series of child deaths among members of the Followers of Christ Church. The Beagleys and Worthingtons are members. The current law states that children over the age of 15 have the right to decide whether they want medical care, even if their parents' religious beliefs say otherwise.

 

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