Man guilty in prayer death of daughter
WAUSAU — A Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second- degree reckless homicide.Dale Neumann Found Guilty
Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she could not walk, talk, eat or speak.
Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family’s rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.
Praying man let his daughter die
During the trial, medical experts told the court that Neumann’s daughter could have survived if she had received treatment, including insulin and fluids, before she stopped breathing.
On Thursday Neumann, who is 47 and studied in the past to be a Pentecostal minister, said he thought God would heal his daughter.
“If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God,” he said. “I am not believing what he said he would do.”
He also said he thought his daughter had had flu or a fever, and that he had not realised how ill she was.
Neumann’s lawyer said he had been convinced that his “faith healing” was working, and that he had committed no crime.
The prosecution argued that Neumann had minimised his daughter’s illness and that he had allowed her to die as a selfish act of faith.
They said the girl should have been taken to hospital because she was unable to walk, talk, eat or drink.
Instead, an ambulance was only called once the girl had stopped breathing.
Jury finds Dale Neumann guilty in prayer death case
Dale and Leilani Neumann share a life together, a family, a strong love of God and a belief that all things can be healed by prayer.
Now, they also have in common convictions on charges of second-degree reckless homicide.
But how will Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard view the couple when he sentences them Oct. 6? Are they the negligent and uncaring parents that prosecutors portrayed during Dale Neumann’s weeklong trial on reckless homicide charges? Or are they devout Christians who were faithful to their convictions and already have been punished by the loss of their child, 11-year-old Madeline Kara Neumann, as defense attorneys contended?
Shawn Francis Peters, author of “When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law,” who tracks faith-healing cases across the country, thinks Howard will tend toward the latter. He said Howard, if he proceeds as other jurists have, likely will order a short jail stay followed by extended supervision.
“The judge has to decide what is in the best interest of the surviving children,” Peters said. The Neumanns’ three surviving children are ages 18, 16, and 14.
Whatever the sentence, the case is not over. Following Leilani Neumann’s conviction May 22, her attorney, Gene Linehan, said he will appeal the case to a higher court. Dale Neumann’s attorney, Jay Kronenwetter, made just one comment Saturday as he left the courtroom: He, too, will appeal.
The law also remains unclear, with legislators still pledging to act to close the holes that allowed this case to be tried in the first place. Kronenwetter told jurors in his closing argument that they could contact legislators to share their views.
The certain appeals notwithstanding, Howard will base his sentence on the testimony he heard during both trials. It will be left to him to determine how culpable the Neumanns are in the death of their child.
Unlike Leilani Neumann’s trial, in which neither she nor her husband testified, both took the stand in this trial.
For the first time, the depth of the Neumanns’ faith was revealed. With his Bible in his hand, Dale Neumann took jurors on a four-hour description of his journey from life as a young man who partied and drank hard to a family man who sought to walk in the steps of Jesus. Quoting scripture and speaking with great conviction, Neumann made it obvious that he had no regrets about his decision.
“If I in a moment of crisis and in a moment of time, I went to anyone else but the Lord, it would not have been favorable to God,” Neumann said.
Kronenwetter told jurors during closing arguments that Dale Neumann’s devout faith all but required him to trust God to heal Kara.
“The idea that Dale Neumann was aware that choosing faith healing instead of taking his daughter to the doctor was causing a risk of great bodily harm or death is just preposterous,” Kronenwetter said.