Fate of parents charged in daughter's death in jury's hands

READING, Pa. - Jurors are deliberating the fate of parents charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of their daughter.

The jury got the case Thursday afternoon after hearing the prosecution and defense attorneys present their closing arguments in the trial of Jonathan and Grace Foster.

The Upper Tulpehocken Township couple are accused of failing to seek medical treatment for their 2-year-old daughter, who, doctors said, died of a treatable form of pneumonia in 2016.

The Fosters said their faith has them believing in the power of prayer over medicine.

At the start of the trial on Tuesday, the couple's attorney asked the question: What did the parents know about their daughter's condition? Did they realize the girl was deathly ill?

The defense said the Fosters did not know that, adding that the parents thought the child had a common cold. The child's grandparents testified that it was a Sunday night in 2016 when the child started showing symptoms of a cold. She died two days later.

The girl's grandfather, Rowland Foster, is a pastor at Faith Tabernacle Church. Witnesses and a recorded police interview with the child's father revealed that, from Sunday until Tuesday morning, the child wasn't herself: not speaking or playing as much, barely eating or drinking, and she even vomited a few times, but because other children in the home were battling a cold, they said they believed the two- year-old had the same illness.

According to the grandfather's testimony and an interview with the child's mother the night before the child died, the mother requested that the child be anointed and prayed for because the child wasn't feeling well.

The prosecution pointed out that there was no request to anoint the other sick children. The following morning, the child's father was called back to the home from work to tend to the child, who died in his arms an hour later.

Authorities said the family reported the death to a funeral home instead of 911 because they'd never experienced the death of a child and thought that is what it should do.

A witness for the prosecution said symptoms of pneumonia would have been obvious for days. The defense argued that certain types of pneumonia can be fast-acting, and the symptoms could be mild and mimic symptoms of a common cold.

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