Oregon City faith-healing couple sentenced to 6 years in prison for baby’s death

Sarah Elaine Mitchell, Travis Lee Mitchell, jail booking photos

A man and woman who believed in faith healing were sentenced to more than six years in prison after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide for the death of their newborn baby.

Travis Lee Mitchell, 22, and Sarah Elaine Mitchell, 25, both pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and first-degree criminal mistreatment Monday. They were arrested in June 2017 and initially faced murder charges.

Investigators said Sarah Mitchell gave birth to twin girls March 5, 2017 at her parents' home in Oregon City. The Mitchells were members of the Followers of Christ Church, and others from the congregation were present for the births.

One of the babies had breathing complications and died. A church elder contacted the Clackamas County Medical Examiner’s Office, but deputies said nobody called 911.

The medical examiner said the surviving baby needed medical attention and, after contacting law enforcement, the family was persuaded to seek professional medical care for the surviving child, according to investigators.

The medical examiner determined the other child’s death was due to complications of prematurity.

Travis and Sarah Mitchell were each sentenced to six years and eight months in prison, along with three years post-prison supervision. They were also ordered to sign a letter stating, “We should have sought adequate medical care for our children and everyone in the church should always seek adequate medical care for our children.”

Sarah Mitchell's sister Shannon Hickman and her husband Dale Hickman were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison in 2011 for the death of their newborn son in a similar case.

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