Creswell, OR – Brandi and Russel Bellew have pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Brandi Bellew’s 16-year-old son, Austin Sprout.
Sprout, who is Russel Bellew’s stepson, died of a burst appendix in December. After a seven week investigation into the death, Lane County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Brandi and Russel Bellew. They originally pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial was set to start this week.
The Bellews are members of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which teaches that prayer, not medical care, will cure their sick members, no matter how grave the circumstances.
Now, I know it’s probably going to come as a shock to you, as it did to me, but bacteria, viruses, and cancer couldn’t give two craps about what you’re asking your god to do. That also goes for serious bodily injury. Scrapes, minor cuts, bruises, and headaches, however, are under strict orders to eventually scram when ordered by God, it would seem.
“That is what the arrests are based on, is the withholding of medical care in this case that allowed Austin to die.” Capt. Trapp said. Doctors have testified that Austin’s condition was entirely treatable and his death would have been prevented had his parents decided to seek medical attention for him.
Oregon passed a law last year which states that faith-healing beliefs may not be used as a defense in manslaughter cases, and the district attorney has worked closely with church leaders to educate them of ramifications of the new law.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Hasselman said that, as part of the plea, the couple are ordered to follow an in-home safety plan set up by the Department of Human Services to ensure their other children’s safety.
Hasselman also worked with General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn is ensure that members of the congregation would not be ostracized for seeking medical care for conditions specifically laid out by the district attorney’s office.
The Bellews were sentenced to five years probation and will be required to work with a probation officer to ensure that their other children are given medical attention should they require it.Tags: Austin Sprout, Brandi Bellew, General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, Negligent Homicide, Oregon, Russel Bellew