Prosecutors cite Oregon verdict in Weston prayer death case
In an effort to counter a motion by Dale and Leilani Neumann to have second-degree intentional homicide charges dismissed against them, Marathon County prosecutors this week have filed a legal argument that cites an Oregon case involving a parent praying for his son while he died of acute leukemia.
The town of Weston couple were charged after their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, died March 23 from complications of undiagnosed diabetes. After she fell ill, the Neumanns reportedly chose to pray for Kara’s recovery rather than seek a doctor’s care.
In response to the defense motion to dismiss, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard ordered prosecutors during a Nov. 3 motion hearing to file an argument citing the Oregon prayer death case, State v. Hays. Howard plans to release his written decision later this month. He is considering arguments for and against granting the Neumanns’ request.
Anthony Hays, 8, died in November 1994 after falling ill the month before. His father, Loyd Edgar Hays, was an elder at the time in the Church of the First Born, a small Pentecostal denomination. An essential tenet of the denomination was that God is operational in the life of each believer, including when the individual is sick. The church permitted medical examinations, but not medical treatment. Despite suspecting Anthony had leukemia, Hays refused to seek medical intervention and turned instead to prayer and the laying on of hands.
A jury convicted him of criminally negligent homicide.
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