Witness Says Sect Leader Tried To Bring Boy Back From The Dead

Associated Press/October 1, 1988

Spokane -- A former elder of the "No-Name Fellowship" has testified that sect leader Douglas Kleber tried to raise Aaron Norman from the dead after the 10-year-old boy died of untreated juvenile diabetes.

Steven Arden testified yesterday that elders and the boy's father also tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation without success.

Bob Norman, 43, is on trial for first-degree manslaughter in the death of his son Dec. 20 at the family home in Mead, a suburb north of the city.

Arden told a Spokane County Superior Court jury that Jeffrey Siegel, former pastor of the Spokane fellowship, encouraged Kleber to try to resurrect the boy.

Siegel's wife, Terri, testified that she told Kleber two days before the boy died that she feared he had diabetes. She added that Kleber, whose sect distrusted doctors and practiced strict physical discipline, told her not to worry and assured her the boy would be all right.

"I told him I was afraid Aaron was going to die," Mrs. Siegel said. "I told him I would rather see him on insulin than dead."

Two local doctors testified that the boy would have been obviously ill during the days before his death and could have been saved if he had been taken to a physician.

"I would say he would have appeared to be very, very sick," said Dr. Barry Gould, a diabetes specialist.

The doctors also said a spanking given the boy the day before he died probably caused stress that worsened his condition. Bob Norman and Kleber spanked the boy to try to make him confess sin they believed was causing the illness.

Under cross-examination, the doctors said the onset of diabetes can be rapid.

Defense attorney Roger Peven contends the parents had little time to consider the seriousness of their son's illness because his condition deteriorated quickly.

On Monday, Jeffrey Siegel testified that Norman could have sought hospital care for his dying son had he wished, although the sect preached against conventional medicine.

When church elders discussed that option the day before Aaron died, Norman said, "My heart is in faith, and I don't feel I want to do that at this point," Siegel told a packed courtroom.

Siegel pleaded guilty earlier to second-degree criminal mistreatment in Aaron's death.

Kleber, founder of the now-defunct fellowship, has pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal mistreatment and also is expected to testify at Norman's trial. The former University of Illinois football player started the fellowship in the 1970s as a Bible-based study group.

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