Moses Lake couple's motion for dismissal will not be reviewed

Columbia Basin HeraldSeptember 22, 2013 

— Grant County Superior Court will not review Judge Evan Sperline’s decision to deny a motion by Robert and Michelle Staats’ attorneys to dismiss the charges against them.

The Moses Lake couple is charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree criminal mistreatment after allegedly not providing necessary medical care to their son, 2. The boy allegedly weighed between 8 and 10 pounds when hospitalized last year, according to court documents. Defense attorneys Douglas Phelps and Stephen Hormel attempted to have the charges dismissed in June arguing that their clients fell under the Christian Science exemption which makes the entire law unconstitutional.

Phelps and Hormel also argued that the law was too vague for the Staats’ to know what they were doing was illegal and too vague for someone else to decide if it was illegal or not.

Sperline disagreed and denied the motion.

A motion for discretionary review was filed in superior court recently and was denied by Commissioner Joyce McCown.

“...being of the opinion that while the case presents interesting constitutional issues, even if the trial court committed obvious or probably error, such error does not render further proceedings useless or substantially alter the status quo...,” she wrote.

According to a previous Herald report, the Staats’ son began having health problems in February 2011 and reportedly wasn’t taken to a doctor until November 2011.

In May of last year, Michelle Staats allegedly found her son lethargic and when he stopped breathing she called 9-1-1. When the boy was seen by doctors at Samaritan Hospital he reportedly looked “emaciated, wasted, and obviously malnourished.”

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