Parents say they did nothing wrong

2 convicted for failing to seek help before infant girl died said they’ll obey court.

FRANKLIN, Ind. — A Johnson County couple convicted of reckless homicide for failing to seek medical help for an ailing newborn told a judge they would do the same thing under similar circumstances.

Dewayne Schmidt, 35, and Maleta Schmidt, 30, told Johnson Superior Court 2 Judge Cynthia Emkes at a Thursday sentencing hearing they would rely on God to heal their children.

However, both said they would abide by any court order or condition of probation.

The Schmidts were indicted by a grand jury in the Oct. 19, 2003, death of Rhianna Rose Schmidt, who lived for 31 hours. A jury found the couple guilty of reckless homicide May 12. They face up to eight years in prison.

Emkes heard from six witnesses, including the Schmidts.

County Deputy Prosecutor Daylon Welliver’s questions about what the Schmidts would do after court supervision ends raised new concerns about the welfare of their two children, Makalynn, 5, and Statler, 6 months. Emkes has caseworkers monitoring those children.

The Schmidts gave nonspecific answers to questions about what they would do once their sentence expired.

“I would hope I would maintain faith in God,” said Dewayne Schmidt.

His wife’s answer to a similar question was: “I will continue to trust God.”

Both testified they do not believe they did anything wrong in Rhianna’s death.

“I placed my faith in a perfect God,” Dewayne Schmidt said.

When Maleta Schmidt was asked if she had done anything wrong in Rhianna’s death, she attempted to skirt the question. When pressed by Welliver, she answered, “No.”

The Schmidts testified they did not think they had violated any law the night Rhianna died.

The Schmidts are members of the General Assembly and Church of the First Born. Many members shun medical treatment in favor of prayer. Not all members refuse medical treatment, and church officials have said members are free to choose.

Emkes will announce her sentencing decision Aug. 12.

All witnesses were called to testify by the Schmidts’ attorney, Carrie Miles, who also presented signed petitions and letters supporting her clients.

Emkes was told the Schmidts had prepared for the worst — a prison sentence — by preparing legal documents giving guardianship of their two children to a member of their church.

Stanley White, Morgantown, testified he and his wife were prepared to move into the Schmidts’ home and raise their children if the Schmidts were imprisoned.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Indianapolis Star, USA
July 22, 2005
Paul Bird

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 23, 2005.
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