WAUSAU, Wis. — A central Wisconsin father charged with reckless homicide for not taking his dying daughter to a doctor told police that he believed God would heal her and that he thought she was simply sleeping when she became unconscious.
Madeline Neumann died on March 23, 2008, from undiagnosed diabetes on the floor of the family’s rural Weston home as people surrounded the 11-year-old girl and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.
Prosecutors contend her father, Dale Neumann, had a legal duty to take his weakened daughter to a doctor. A videotape of his interview with police after her death was shown to jurors during his trial Wednesday before prosecutors rested their case.
Neumann, 47, told the judge that he planned to testify in his defense.
The family does not belong to an organized religion, and Neumann’s wife, Leilani Neumann, testified Tuesday that she and her husband have nothing against doctors. But, she said, she viewed Madeline’s illness as “something spiritual.”
Leilani Neumann was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6.
During more than four hours of testimony during the trial of her husband, Leilani Neumann defended the couple’s rejection of medical intervention for their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann.
Two doctors previously testified that Kara, as she was known, could have been saved with medical treatment up until just before she perished.
Leilani Neumann, who was convicted of the same charge in May, was called to testify by prosecutors, who granted her immunity from additional charges. Throughout her testimony, she described how her trust in God has grown and at least twice quoted Scripture or cited Bible passages. Leilani Neumann told jurors she is not against doctors, but finds their practice of medicine to not be biblical in nature.
“It would have shown complete disobedience to what we believe in,” Leilani Neumann said, when asked why she didn’t seek medical help for her daughter.
Later she said, “I fully thought (Kara) would recover and even the lifelessness was something she would come out of and it would be OK.”
When asked by Marathon County Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson if she believed sickness is caused by sin, Leilani Neumann explained that God doesn’t want people to harbor disobedience and unforgiveness inside themselves and that there is a spiritual root cause to sickness. She testified that a falling out with former friends and potential business partners, Randy and Althea Wormgoor, might have caused Kara to become ill.
“Our feelings are that there was something spiritually wrong with her,” Leilani Neumann said.