Trial date expected to be set Monday in prayer death case
Attorneys are expected to meet Monday with a Marathon County judge to schedule trial dates for the parents of a Weston girl who died when their faith-healing efforts failed.
Dale and Leilani Neumann both face second-degree reckless homicide charges in connection with the March 23 death of their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann. A coroner’s report said Kara, as she was known, died from complications of untreated diabetes.
Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard, who refused earlier this month to dismiss the charges against the Neumanns, will preside at the trial. A request for a speedy trial was made this week, which requires the trial to be held in 90 days.
Trial for prayer death back on track
… Jay Kronenwetter, one of the attorneys for Dale and Leilani Neumann, said Thursday that Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard’s refusal to dismiss the charges on constitutional grounds would not be appealed.
The Neumanns have pleaded not guilty to second-degree reckless homicide, which carries a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison.
Their daughter, Madeline, died at their Weston home on Easter. Prosecutors say the girl was too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk and the parents had a legal duty to seek medical care.
Earlier this month, Howard rejected defense arguments that prosecuting the parents violated their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and due process.
“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment protects religious belief, but not necessarily conduct,” Howard wrote in a |20-page decision.
The sole issue for a jury to decide is whether the parents reasonably knew that refusing to rush the girl to a doctor threatened her with death, Howard wrote.
Howard ruled that two Wisconsin laws — one that says it is not child abuse to treat illness through prayer alone and a homicide law that makes no exception for prayer — are not inconsistent to the point of violating the parents’ due process rights in having “fair notice” of prohibited behavior.
Howard had said he expected his ruling on the constitutional questions to be appealed, perhaps to the state Supreme Court, because the case was unprecedented in Wisconsin.
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 the girl had not been to a doctor since she was 3.
Dale Neumann, 46, considered his daughter’s illness “a test of faith,” the criminal complaint said.
Kronenwetter said Thursday there was no guarantee an appeals court would take the case at this point without more facts on the record.
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