Relatives testify in faith healing trial

KGW News 8, Oregon/June 3, 2011

Oregon City - The state rested its case Thursday morning in Clackamas County Court in a trial to determine whether a girl's parents are guilty of criminal mistreatment for relying on faith rather than medicine to treat an eye problem.

The defense called its first witness in the trial of Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, whose baby Alayna suffered a buildup of blood vessels around her left eye.

Garrett Crone, the brother-in-law of Timothy Wayland took the stand, crying as he described him as a loving, caring father.

He also described the day that police and state child care workers came to his brother-in-law's home and the parents asking if they could keep the child.

The case was expected to go to the jury next Tuesday.

"The tall cop said 'no' and Tim said 'well how come' and he said because you go to that church," Crone said. 'and (the officer) said 'well, yeah, but we can take her . . . .we know how you believe."

Tuesday, a doctor testified that a baby girl may have gone blind if she weren't taken away from her faith-healing parents.

She said the girl has permanent developmental damage to her eye and may require surgery. In court, the jury was shown images of baby Alayna Wyland who suffered from a buildup of blood vessels around her left eye during the first few months of her life.

Her parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, are accused of criminal mistreatment after not taking their daughter to a doctor.

The state took Alayna into custody almost immediately, having had experiences with Followers of Christ Church members in the past. At the time, case workers feared the consequences.

"She could go blind in that eye. She could lose the eye completely. Her face could continue to deform," said case worker John Faber.

Prosecutors asked Emanuel Hospital Dr. Dan Leonhardt -an expert on child abuse who treated Alayna- about the girl's condition.

"The diagnosis I came to is 'medical neglect,'" he said.

Dr. Leah Reznick, with Oregon Health Sciences University, was one of the first to care for Alayna while in state custody. She says the girl is doing much better now and her parents are following doctors' orders but it's likely too late to prevent permanent developmental damage.

Reznick says the girl will likely need surgery "to give her the opportunity to have depth perception for using her eyes together and for obvious cosmetic reasons."

Defense attorneys are blaming case workers for mismanaging the girl's medical care once she was in state custody. Their clients could serve jail time under the mistreatment charges.

The case is expected to last into next week.

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