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Lansing – A judge has approved a request from prosecutors to upgrade charges to murder against a Michigan couple who allegedly refused to seek medical treatment for their baby because of their religious beliefs.

Joshua and Rachel Piland of Lansing had been awaiting trial on involuntary manslaughter charges. The Lansing State Journal reports, however, that Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Jamo on Thursday gave prosecutors permission to file murder and child abuse charges.

Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Crino says the request was due to “significant factual changes” from medical reports and other information.

Rachel Piland’s defense lawyer called it “prosecutorial vindictiveness.”

The baby, Abigail, died of jaundice after an at-home birth in 2017. The Pilands declined to take her to a doctor , saying the child’s health was in God’s hands.

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