Appeals court recommends Supreme Court hear Neumann case

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Update, May 1, 2012: A Wausau-based appeals court recommended in a written ruling released this morning that the state Supreme Court hear the case of a Weston couple and their conviction on reckless homicide charges for the 2008 death of their daughter.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports

The three appeals court judges wrote that this is the first case of its kind in Wisconsin and the issues are likely to arise again.

“We submit that it is appropriate for Wisconsin’s highest court to determine the scope of the prayer treatment exception and to inform trial courts regarding the appropriate jury instructions when that exception is raised in a reckless homicide case,” the judges wrote.

Court of Appeals Certification PDF file

Religion News Blog — An Appeals Court based in Wausau, Winconsin will release its decision today on the request by Dale and Leilani Neumann to have their convictions overturned in connection with the 2008 faith healing death of their daughter.


Oct. 6, 2009 news report on the sentencing of Dale and Leilani Neumann

Madeline Kara Neumann, 12, died March 23, 2008, from complications of diabetic ketoacidosis, a treatable though serious condition of type 1 diabetes in which acid builds up in the blood.

The Neumanns, who believe in faith healing, said they did not know she had diabetes. Instead of taking her to doctor when she fell ill, they only prayed for the girl’s recovery.

Leilani Neumann later told The Associated Press that the family does not belong to any organized religion or faith but believes in the Bible and said that healing comes from God.

AP noted that it had found two postings under her name on the Web site AmericasLastDays.com, which is operated by Unleavened Bread Ministries, an evangelical ministry that focuses on the apocalypse and that equates the use of medicine with what the Bible refers to as ‘witchcraft.’

A family friend testified that Leilani thought sickness was caused by sin.

In 2009 the Neumanns were convicted in separate trials of killing their 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care.

They each faced up to 25 years in prison, but at their sentencing in October 2009 Judge Howard has recommended a withheld sentence and 10 years of probation with conditions. Howard has ordered jail time as a condition of probation. Each parent also has to serve 30 days in jail a year for the next six years.

In April, 2011 a judge denied the Neumann’s appeals for new trials.

Dale Neumann argued he should get a new trial because jurors in his prayer-death trial could have been biased after learning that his wife was previously convicted in the case.

Leilani said that her trial attorney should have put stronger emphasis on her sincere belief that prayer is a form of treatment.

The Wausau Daily Herald writes

The jail terms were delayed pending appeals.

The Neumanns both argued that their actions before Kara’s death were permitted under the state’s faith-healing law.

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014