TULSA — A Tulsa County jury imposed a 2½-year prison sentence Friday night after convicting a woman of second-degree manslaughter in the diabetes-related death of her ailing son, whose treatment she believed relied upon spiritual means.
Prosecutors alleged that Susan Grady acted with “culpable negligence” toward 9-year-old Aaron Grady between June 2 and June 5, 2009, by not seeking medical treatment for him.
Aaron died June 5, 2009, at his family’s Broken Arrow apartment from complications of diabetes mellitus.
District Judge William Kellough set formal sentencing for June 8.
Grady, 43, who has been free on bond, was jailed after the verdict was delivered.
Defense attorney Rob Nigh, who expressed disappointment with the outcome, said he will seek an appeal bond, which would allow Grady to stay out of custody during an appeal. That matter could be taken up at the formal sentencing.
Grady did not testify.
In relying on prayer to heal her son, Grady, a member of the Church of the Firstborn, told police in 2009, “I didn’t want to be weak in my faith and disappoint God.”
Nigh has maintained that Grady’s conduct was not unreasonable, based upon the teachings of her church.
Assistant District Attorney Ben Fu told jurors in a closing argument that the prosecution “did not put the Church of the Firstborn on trial this week.”
“This case is about Aaron Grady,” Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said.
Second-degree manslaughter involves “culpable negligence” — an omission — to do something that a reasonably careful person would do, or failure to use ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions.
Kellough instructed jurors that a person may be justified under Oklahoma law in not providing medical treatment for his or her child, if instead the parent, in good faith, selects and depends upon spiritual means alone through prayer, in accordance with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination; provided that the treatment or cure is something which a reasonably careful person would do under similar circumstances and conditions.
“You don’t have a right to let a child die,” McAmis said.
McAmis and Fu maintained that Grady’s actions were not the actions of a reasonably careful person.
Second-degree manslaughter carries a possible prison term of two to four years, or a county jail sentence not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding $1,000, or a fine and imprisonment.
An offender convicted of second-degree manslaughter is not required to serve 85 percent of the prison time before being eligible for parole or release.