• Religion, medicine at center of Gwinnett County murder trial

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Religion and medicine are at the center of a murder trial in Gwinnett County.

    A father is accused of killing his 11-week-old daughter by not getting her proper medical care.

    Police say Niveah died in April 2015 from drinking too much water and not enough milk. George Landell says he didn’t get his daughter medical attention because it went against his religious beliefs.

    Landell and his wife, Lauren Fristed, insist they believed prayer, not medicine and milk, would heal their baby.

    “On the day she died, George believed that his prayers were what she needed. He believe his prayers were the medicine for the evils that were attacking her,” defense attorney Maryann Blend. “Ultimately, this will come down to what you believe.”


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    Landell wept through the entire trial Wednesday afternoon.

    Prosecutors say by ignoring the advice of doctors and avoiding medical help, Landell murdered his baby. “They believed there was something malicious or sinister or evil on the day that that child passed,” Blend said.

    Fristed pleaded guilty last week and will testify against her husband. Prosecutors say she says she was worried she wasn't providing enough milk and wanted to add formula, but he ordered her to only add water.

    “His wife is asking him to go to the hospital and he refuses and he says your negativity is interfering so you need leave the room,” prosecutor Dan Mayfield told jurors.

    Surveillance cameras show George Landell bringing his child to the hospital shortly before she was pronounced dead.
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    Fristed, Landell and Landell’s minister will all take the stand later in the trial, lawyers said.

    A nursing supervisor testified Wednesday.

    “He walked out of the room (after his child died) and he was just very flat and not what you’d expect,” she said.

    Jury members were questioned extensively over the past week about their religious beliefs, freedom of religion and medicine.

    “You'll be called upon to make a decision about who's responsible for that,” Blend said.

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