OREGON CITY, Ore. - For the third time in Oregon, jurors will decide the fate of two parents who belong to an Oregon City church that believes in faith healing.
Closing arguments started Monday afternoon in the case of Tim and Rebecca Wyland. They are accused of not getting their daughter treatment for a growth that overtook her eye and left her blind on one side.
The prosecution argues that the Wylands only cooperated in getting treatment for their daughter because a judge ordered it.
But as their last witness, the defense called the pediatrician in charge of that care. The doctor praised the Wylands for their parenting skills in the time that she has known the couple.
The doctor said she’s treated several other families who belong to the Followers of Christ Church, which shuns medicine in favor of prayer.
“When I’ve seen some patients who have been court ordered to see me I’ve just expressed the fact that I don’t think God is opposed to using doctors,” Dr. Jo Anne Nielsen said. “Luke was one of the physicians in the bible who wrote a book. I think it’s a good thing for a child to see a doctor when he’s sick.”
Still, Dr. Nielsen said she believes the Wylands should have taken their daughter Alayna to a doctor before the court ordered treatment.
Defense lawyers tried to paint police and prosecutors as being overzealous and rushing to judgment against members of the church.
“This is a beloved child, this is their only child, this precious child that is in the care of Tim and Rebecca Wyland. It is not the baby of the state of Oregon,” defense attorney Mark Cogan argued.
Prosecutors said the Wylands should have known their daughter was in trouble as a growth overtook her eye.
“Faith-healing, relying on God only, praying, anointing with oil, that is not a defense,” said Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Jones.
Neither Tim nor Rebecca Wyland testified during their own trial.
At least 10 jurors must agree to a guilty verdict to convict them of criminal mistreatment in the first degree, which means they "knowingly withheld necessary and adequate medical care" from their daughter. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.
But the jury could find them guilty of 2nd degree criminal mistreatment, saying they didn't do it "knowingly," and instead saying they were "negligent" for withholding treatment.
Closing arguments are expected to wrap up on Tuesday.