Prayer death case heard by state Supreme Court - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Prayer death case heard by state Supreme Court


The Weston couple charged with homicide after praying for their daughter's recovery is hoping the state Supreme Court will overturn that decision.

In separate trials, Dale and Leilani Neumann were both convicted of second degree reckless homicide in 2009. The couple chose prayer instead of seeking medical attention when their daughter, Madeline, became very ill.

Madeline, better known as Kara, ultimately died from untreated diabetes.

On Tuesday, the state Supreme County heard their case as lawyers on both sides gave their final arguments.

During arguments, defense lawyers told the court, during the couple's trials jury instruction wasn't clear and legally they're protected under the state's "Faith Healing" law.

"The government essentially told the Neumann's prayer treatment is legal up through the substantial risk of death, and then the government turned around and prosecuted them for exercising that same privilege," defense attorney Bryon Lichstein said.

But the state had a different argument. Assistant attorney general Maura Whelan told the court the Neumann's are not protected under the state's law because the parents had a medical obligation to their child.

"If the Neumann's had read the state statute, they could have reasonably concluded that they could, with impunity, pray over Kara after she slipped into a coma," Whelan said.

The final arguments lasted more than an hour. Now, it's up to the seven justices of the State Supreme Court. But court officials say it could take 3-6 months before a verdict is reached.

The Neumann's were not in court Tuesday, but they are free. The couple was sentenced in 2009 to 10 years of probation and six months behind bars, but that sentence is on hold pending the appeal.

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