A mother ignored a midwife’s warning their newborn baby could die of jaundice on religious grounds and refused to seek treatment for her child.
Rachel Joy Piland, from Michigan, told the midwife “God makes no mistakes”, according to a police detective who testified in court last week.
Detective Peter Scaccia said: "Rachel declined to seek any medical treatment for Abigail, stating God makes no mistakes. She indicated to the midwife that the baby was fine."
Two days later on 9 February her daughter died from unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus, according to an autopsy by a medical examiner. Both of these conditions are linked to jaundice – a common condition in newborn babies that can resolve itself on its own but requires a doctor to monitor.
"He [the medical examiner] said if treated, most likely she would've been alive," Mr Scaccia said.
Ms Piland, 30, and her husband, Joshua Barry Piland, 36, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter - a charge that carries up to 15 years in prison.
The case is likely to put the Pilands' apparent belief in divine healing and the religious group they have been involved in Faith Tech Ministries directly against government officials who argue parents are responsible for obtaining medical care for their infant.
Authorities only became aware the newborn had died after Ms Piland's brother called from California to inform police a baby had passed away at the couple's home.
The midwife, who helped deliver two of Ms Piland’s previous children, voiced no worry about the baby’s health when she was born on 6 February but her assessment changed the next day when she saw her jaundiced skin.
According to Detective Scaccia, the midwife recommended Ms Piland to take her child to a pediatrician or emergency room.
“She told Piland the baby could suffer brain damage or die if not properly cared for,” he told the court.
Although the midwife arranged another appointment for the next day Ms Piland later cancelled it.
Despite the fact Abigail wasn't eating properly and coughed up blood, the detective said Ms Piland put the two-day-year old child “near a window wearing just a diaper utilizing a hair dryer to keep her warm”.
On the morning of 9 February, Ms Piland found her daughter "lifeless and not breathing" in a bouncy seat.
"He [the father] attempted one rescue breath but had no success. He did not want to perform CPR because he only knew how to perform it on adults, not children," the detective said.
"They then brought Abigail upstairs to pray for her. Joshua continued to massage Abigail, attempting to get her good air. Both Josh and (Rachel) reached out to friends and fellow church members to come to their home and pray for Abigail’s resurrection, but never called the police.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies