Broken Arrow Woman On Trial For Refusing Medical Care For Dying Son

Tuesday, May 22nd 2012, 6:20 pm

A Broken Arrow woman goes on trial this week for manslaughter in the death of her 9-year-old son. He died from complications of diabetes.

Tulsa County prosecutors say she chose prayer over medical care and the boy suffered greatly.

As jury selection started, Rita Swan drove to Oklahoma to see how the case would turn out. She's become an expert on parents who let their children die while they wait on divine healing.

That's what she did.

"We were devout lifelong Christian Scientists until 1977, when we lost our only son to a treatable illness because of following the traditional Christian Scientist beliefs against medical care," Swan said.

Tulsa County prosecutors have charged Susan Grady with 2nd degree manslaughter for refusing to seek medical care for her 9-year-old son.

01/02/2011 Related Story: Broken Arrow Mother Who Refused Medical Help For Dying Son Arrested

She's a member of the Church of the First Born, where believers turn to God instead of doctors - even when basic medical care would make a life or death difference.

Read the police affidavit

"I think those parents will be devastated for life," Swan said. "I know what it has cost our family. I would do anything in my power to save another family from going through what we've gone through."

Swan says 2 years ago, Oklahoma's legislators created one of the country's most extreme religious exemptions for charges of child neglect.

She believes several children - and young mothers in labor - have died in the last six months - while the law protected those around them who could have intervened.

"We really don't want Oklahoma to be saying that parents have the right to withhold insulin from a diabetic child if they belong to certain churches," Swan said.

Among the expected witnesses at trial are people who saw 9-year-old Aaron Grady over several days before he died - and while they prayed for him - they didn't do anything else.

Only the mother is facing the manslaughter charge. She's not facing neglect charges because of the religious exemption.