BOSTON — A FLORIDA couple convicted of third-degree murder and felony child abuse in the death of their seven-year old daughter will appeal on religious grounds the conviction and sentence. On June 30 Circuit Judge Stephen Dakan gave Christian Scientists William and Christine Hermanson four-year suspended jail sentences. They were placed on 15 years probation and required to take their two remaining children, ages 1 and 11, to physicians for regular checkups and medical treatment.
The Hermansons relied on prayer for the recovery of their daughter from diabetes. They said they had acted in accord with their religious teachings, as well as with Florida law, which allows parents to treat children through prayer rather than medically.
An appeal is likely, either to a state or federal court. The US Constitution prohibits government from ``establishing'' religion and guarantees ``free exercise'' of religious beliefs. Christian Scientists rely on prayer and call on authorized practitioners for healing.