Father renews call to dismiss homicide charge
WAUSAU, Wis. – If a couple accused of killing their 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care goes to trial, the courts will wrongly become entangled in constitutionally protected religious matters, an attorney argued Tuesday.
A 19-page brief filed in Marathon County Circuit Court outlines an expected long legal fight on whether Dale and Leilani Neumann can be prosecuted for second-degree reckless homicide under Wisconsin law because they prayed instead of taking their daughter to the doctor as she died of diabetes.
Their attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss the charges, arguing the law is “unconstitutionally vague” as it applies to the allegations in the complaint. The defendants also contend the charges unconstitutionally infringe on their right to freely exercise their religion.
Prosecutors have until Oct. 3 to submit a response.
Attorneys for both sides have declined comment about the case, citing a judge’s gag order that banned them from talking about it outside the courtroom.
An autopsy determined Madeline Neumann — called Kara by her parents — died from undiagnosed diabetes at the family’s rural Weston home on Easter. The girl likely had symptoms for weeks and perhaps months before she died, court records said.
Leilani Neumann, 40, has said the family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, and she never expected her daughter to die as they prayed for her. The parents told investigators Kara had not been to a doctor since she was 3.