Parents Who Chose Prayer Over Medical Help Plead Guilty Over Death of Newborn, Prison Sentence Revealed

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July 10, 2018Jul 10, 2018

Around a year ago, 24-year-old Sarah and 21-year-old Travis Mitchell were put into custody over a tragic situation involving their newborn baby. Their baby girl sadly died only a few hours after her birth in March of 2017. 

The baby, Gennifer Mitchell, died from "complications of prematurity" on March 5. She died at her grandparent's house in Oregon City, Oregon. The controversy came over the fact that Sarah and Travis were a part of "Followers of Christ" church, a group that rejects any form of medical care. Instead, they believe solely in faith healing. 

After Gennifer's death, Oregon's chief medical examiner, Dr. Karen Gunson, revealed that it was unclear exactly how premature the baby was. 

Dr. Gunson said, "This group of people do not see physicians. The only one data point we have on her [Sarah] is the fact that she had a positive pregnancy test- form an over the counter pregnancy test- and she isn't sure exactly when that was, sometime in the summertime."

The doctor also informed People that there were family members and church congregation members at the baby's birth, but no calls to 911 were ever made. After Gennifer died, one of the church elders contacted a medical examiner's office. The examiner who got to the scene noticed that Gennifer's twin sister, Evelyn, needed medical attention as well. Evelyn was taken to the hospital.

Now, Sarah and Travis, now 25 and 22 respectively, have pled guilty to the charges of negligent homicide and criminal mistreatment. They were sentenced to just short of 7 years in prison. Their 13 months in custody will count as credit. 

The Mitchells' lawyer said, "Everyone in the church should always seek adequate medical care for our children."

Evelyn remains in foster care, but Sarah and Travis were given in-jail visits with their daughter. The news of the sentence was not surprising to the family, as Sarah's sister and her husband were sentenced to six years in prison over the death of their newborn son in 2009 as well. 

Dr. Gunson noted that there have been around 20 deaths of church members from this group in her 30 years of working in the field.

Please be praying for baby Evelyn and for the rest of the family during this time. Share your thoughts here! In other recent news, people are absolutely losing their minds over Costco's latest announcement.