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Parents of girl, 2, who died of pneumonia are convicted of manslaughter for not getting medical help

The parents of a 2-year-old Pennsylvania girl who died of pneumonia have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors said they declined to seek medical care for the child on religious grounds.

Jonathan Foster, 35, and Grace Foster, 34, were convicted on Friday in Berks County court of child endangerment in the November 2016 death of daughter Ella Grace in Upper Tulpehocken Township, The Reading Eagle reported. 

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The Fosters, who remain free pending sentencing in April, attributed their daughter’s death to ‘God’s will,’ according to a police affidavit. They told authorities that Ella began showing symptoms of a common cold two days before she died, including lethargy and a sore throat, but her breathing eventually became labored, then rapid, and she died in her father’s arms.

Jonathan Foster, 35

Jonathan and Grace Foster, 35 and 34, have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the November 2016 pneumonia death of their two-year-old daughter 

Ella Grace died at her Pennsylvania home after her parents declined to seek medical help

Ella Grace died at her Pennsylvania home after her parents declined to seek medical help

The defendants belong to Faith Tabernacle Congregation, which instructs members to avoid doctors and pharmaceutical drugs. Medical personnel testified that the child likely would have survived had she been given treatment.

Defense attorneys declined comment but vowed to ‘pursue all appropriate avenues’ possibly including appeals. They argued that their clients thought their daughter only had a cold. 

Attorney R. Davis Younts asked the jury to focus on the facts about what the parents knew, not the opinions of expert witnesses or any feelings about the Fosters’ religious beliefs.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Lehman, however, said Grace Foster asked their pastor Rowland Foster, the child’s grandfather, to anoint the sick child the night before but not another daughter who also had cold symptoms, and her father left work the next morning to help care for her.

Video courtesy of WFMZ

The Fosters, who remain free pending sentencing in April, attributed their daughter's death to 'God's will,' according to a police affidavit

The Fosters, who remain free pending sentencing in April, attributed their daughter’s death to ‘God’s will,’ according to a police affidavit

The parents belong to Faith Tabernacle Congregation, which instructs members to avoid doctors and pharmaceutical drugs

The parents belong to Faith Tabernacle Congregation, which instructs members to avoid doctors and pharmaceutical drugs

Prosecutors said they haven’t decided what sentence to seek but the standard sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter are nine to 16 months in prison, with a maximum allowed term of 10 years.

Jurors deliberated for more than four hours on Thursday without reaching a verdict, then had to start over Friday with a new member of the panel after one juror became sick. The new panel reached a verdict after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

When the verdict was announced the defendants kept their heads slightly bowed and closed their eyes. More than 80 supporters also were silent in the courtroom, but some muffled cries were heard in the hallway as they comforted one another with hugs and handshakes.

After they were charged, the Fosters gave up custody of six other children who ranged in age from 1 to 12 years old. Authorities said the children would be kept together but placed in the care of a family that would ensure that they receive proper medical care.

In December, a judge dismissed a charge against the congregation’s pastor of failure to report suspected abuse.

According to the Fosters, Ella began showing symptoms of a common cold two days before she died, including lethargy and a sore throat (pictured is the family's home)

According to the Fosters, Ella began showing symptoms of a common cold two days before she died, including lethargy and a sore throat (pictured is the family’s home)

Grace Foster alegedly asked their pastor Rowland Foster, the child's grandfather (pictured), to anoint the sick child the night before but not another daughter who also had a cold 

Grace Foster alegedly asked their pastor Rowland Foster, the child’s grandfather (pictured), to anoint the sick child the night before but not another daughter who also had a cold 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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