Testimony begins in manslaughter trial against mother of 9-year-old

Tulsa World/May 24, 2012

Testimony began Wednesday in the manslaughter trial of a woman accused of relying on prayer instead of medical care to treat her ailing 9-year-old son who died of diabetes-related complications.

Aaron Grady "suffered a long, hard, tragic death for no reason,'' Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said in an opening statement to the jury.

Defense attorney Rob Nigh, representing Aaron's mother, Susan Grady, said that Grady "did the best she could for her son, in accordance with her religious beliefs."

Grady, a member of the Church of the Firstborn and a single mother with three children, did what she had been taught to do and prayed with church elders for her son's recovery, Nigh said.

There was testimony that Aaron's weight dropped 16 pounds - from 68 pounds in April 2009 to 52 pounds on June 5, 2009, the day of his death.

When his body was discovered in his family's Broken Arrow apartment, the boy was "so thin and so emaciated and so skinny and so frail,'' McAmis said.

Some people from Grady's church were also present at that scene, she said.

A medical examiner determined that Aaron died of complications of diabetes.

If Grady had sought medical help in response to symptoms that her son exhibited, diabetes was readily treatable, McAmis indicated.

Photos of the deceased boy were shown in the courtroom Wednesday and drew some emotional responses.

Grady, 43, is on trial for second-degree manslaughter, which involves "culpable negligence" - an omission to do something that a reasonably careful person would do or failure to use ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions.

Prosecutors allege that Grady acted negligently toward Aaron between June 2 and June 5, 2009, by not seeking medical treatment for him.

Broken Arrow police officer Steven Vanscoy testified Wednesday that after the boy's death, Grady indicated that her son had had the flu, and "he had not seen a doctor."

Grady also indicated that she had been praying for him to get better, according to Vanscoy.

At the apartment on the day he died, the boy was malnourished with his ribs showing, Vanscoy said.

Second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum prison term of four years.

Grady is free on bond.

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