Prosecutors won the right Wednesday to introduce evidence from a previous faith-healing death in the extended family of Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, whose teenage son died in June 2008 from an untreated medical condition.
The ruling, which came after more than an hour of legal arguments, means the jury will know much more than defense attorneys would like about the night the Beagleys’ granddaughter died under similar circumstances.
Because statements the Beagleys gave that night to a detective were ruled admissible, jurors will also know that the previous case also had criminal implications.
The Beagleys are charged with criminally negligent homicide for failing to provide adequate medical care for their 16-year-old son Neil.
Clackamas County prosecutor Greg Horner argued Wednesday that statements the couple made to a detective are relevant because they directly show the Beagleys’ awareness that they have a responsibility to provide medical care for Neil and his younger sister.
The Beagleys and their relatives are members of the Followers of Christ, whose members rarely seek medical treatment. They use faith-healing practices — prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands.
Two relatives of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, the Oregon City boy who died two years ago from a treatable urinary illness, told a Clackamas County jury Wednesday that they thought Neil could die.
The statements could potentially speak to the Beagleys’ assertions that they didn’t know how serious Neil’s condition was, with family members and defense attorneys saying it appeared to just be the flu.
Prosecutors also introduced into evidence a food log, kept by the family, of what Neil ate and drank in the days leading up to his death.
Read in court by the detective who seized it, the journal showed a meager diet of bites of bananas, eggs, apple sauce, fractions of cups of soup and sips of soda or water. That food also came with regular occasions in which Neil would vomit.
The journal, kept meticulously from June 10 to June 16, stops about 24 hours before Neil died. Prosecutors could point to that as another sign the family knew their son’s condition was dire.
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