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State of Oregon v. Jeffery Dean Beagley

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-19-2013
Case #: A145054
Schuman, P.J.;Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A145054.pdf

Criminal Law: A parent has an absolute duty to provide medical care to a child, and that once a reasonable person should know that there is a substantial risk that a child will die without medical care, the parent must provide that care, or allow it to be provided.

Defendants in this case were convicted of criminally negligent homicide, ORS 163.145, after their 16-year old son died from an extended illness during which the defendants, in accord with their religious beliefs, did not provide any conventional forms of medical care. The jury found the defendants guilty of criminally negligent homicide. The defendants raised three issues on appeal; first, whether the criminal negligence statute as charged in this case imposed or constitutionally could impose an obligation on defendants to provide life sustaining medical care for their son; second, whether the jury was properly instructed as to what facts it needed to find in order to return a guilty verdict; and third, whether the jury might have been prejudiced by hearing inadmissible evidence.  On the first issue the court held that a parent has an absolute duty to provide medical care to a child, and that once a reasonable person should know that there is a substantial risk that a child will die without medical care, the parent must provide that care, or allow it to be provided. On the second issue the court held that the jury instructions in this case correctly informed the jurors as to what they had to find in order to convict the defendants of criminally negligent homicide, and viewed as a whole the instructions were free from error. On the third issue the court held that jury was not prejudiced by hearing testimony about the defendants being present when another relative died of lack of medical care, because this should have altered them that their son was at risk, and was directly relevant to the charge of negligence. Affirmed.