Prosecutors: Religion central to Albany girl's death

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) A Linn County judge will soon decide whether a family's religious beliefs are relevant to the death of their daughter.

Twelve-year-old Syble Rossiter died in early February 2013 of complications from diabetes. She endured such a dramatic weight loss in the month before she died that a teacher confronted her mother about the issue.

The Albany Democrat-Herald reports the family is part of the Church of the First Born, a fundamentalist sect that believes traditional medical treatment is sinful, and instead trust in God to heal them through faith.

Syble's parents, Travis and Wenona Rossiter, face manslaughter charges.

Police allege the Rossiters withheld necessary and adequate medical attention for their daughter, which resulted in her death.

"They belonged to a belief system called the Church of the First Born," said Capt. Eric Carter of the Albany Police Department. "I'll let you do your own research."

Their attorneys want to exclude evidence of the couple's beliefs from the trial, arguing that such evidence would be prejudicial.

Prosecutors say the family's beliefs are the reason they failed to seek medical care.


Information from: Albany Democrat-Herald


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

After investigating for several months, detectives determined the Rossiters withheld necessary and adequate medical attention for Syble, resulting in her death, Carter said.

Carter said he was unable to elaborate on what caused Syble's death.

"What our investigation focused on was that it was a treatable condition," he said. "The family did not provide adequate and necessary medical care for their 12-year-old daughter which resulted, ultimately, in her death."

Last year, the parents of 16-year-old Austin Sprout of Creswell pleaded guilty to negligent homicide charges in the boy's December 2011 death. The family were members of the Church of the First Born.

Oregon law no longer allows religion as a defense to manslaughter charges in so-called "faith-healing" cases.

This is a developing story. Watch your local TV news and this website for more on the story