A Michigan couple is charged with involuntary manslaughter after allegedly refusing the advice of a midwife to seek medical treatment for their daughter

By Christine Pelisek
September 29, 2017 05:19 PM

A Michigan couple is charged with involuntary manslaughter after allegedly refusing the advice of a midwife that they seek medical treatment for their newborn daughter, who later died, PEOPLE confirms.

Joshua Barry Piland, 36, and his 30-year-old wife, Rachel Joy Piland, were charged on Sept. 20, more than six months after the Feb. 9 death of their daughter, Abigail, who was found dead at their home in Lansing, Michigan.

According to police testimony in court last week, the couple’s midwife had warned Rachel about the girl’s health the day after she was born and recommended Rachel seek medical attention, the Lansing State Journal reports.

“Rachel declined to seek any medical treatment for Abigail, stating, ‘God makes no mistakes,’ ” Lansing police detective Peter Scaccia testified, according to the State Journal. “She indicated to the midwife that the baby was fine.”

According to Scaccia, Rachel then canceled a follow-up appointment with the midwife.

Two days later, Abigail died from unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus, conditions associated with jaundice, the State Journal reports.

Scaccia testified that the baby would have most likely survived had she received prompt treatment.

Rachel’s mother had noticed that the baby was coughing up blood and her color was off, the State Journal reports. But, Scaccia testified, Rachel “went to listen to sermons” after she told her mother about the midwife’s concerns.

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From left: Rachel Joy Piland and Joshua Barry Piland
Lansing Police Department

Rachel’s mother urged her daughter to call the police after she saw blood coming from Aibigal’s nose, but Rachel allegedly refused, Scaccia said.

Later that morning, the baby was found dead in her bouncy seat and Joshua allegedly attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but had no success.

Joshua allegedly did not want to try CPR on his daughter because he had only performed it on adults, according to the State Journal.

“They then brought Abigail upstairs to pray for her,” Scaccia testified. “Joshua continued to massage Abigail, attempting to get her good air. Both Josh and [Rachel] reached out to friends and fellow church members to come to their home and pray for Abigail’s resurrection but never called the police.”

Police learned of the death after Rachel’s brother contacted them from California.

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At the scene, police “went upstairs and found a baby that had passed away and three other people praying for it,” Scaccia testified.

Neither Joshua nor Rachel has entered a plea. At a hearing last week, Rachel requested a court-appointed attorney but has not yet received one. Joshua has not retained an attorney.

The couple — who are allegedly involved with Faith Tech Ministries, a non-denominational Christian religious group with beliefs that include a “strong message in the area of divine healing” — was released from jail after posting $75,000 bond.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 5.

Messages left with the Pilands as well as with Faith Tech Ministries, Lansing police and the district attorney’s office were not immediately returned on Friday.

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