WI Supreme Court ruling in prayer death case highly anticipated
MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -
After months of waiting, a ruling is expected to be released Wednesday morning in a controversial prayer death case out of Marathon County.
In 2009, Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston were tried separately for the death of their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann. She was better known as Kara.
According to court records, the young girl became sick in 2008 and instead of seeking medical attention, her parents chose to pray for her healing.
During testimony in court, both said they believed in the power of God to heal the sick.
Despite the prosecution's argument that the Neumann's actions fell under the state's faith-healing law, both were convicted of 2nd degree reckless homicide, and sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation.
Neither one has spent time behind bars, because of the appeals process.
State laws say a person can't be found guilty of physically abusing a child if they decide to treat the child with prayer instead of medical treatment. Prosecutors argue the Neumann's are not protected under that law because they were charged with reckless homicide, not abuse.
But a Wausau appeals court didn't issue a ruling in the case.
In a written statement, an appeals judge wrote that the case is the first of its kind in the state and needs to be addressed at a higher level to set precedent.
That's where the Wisconsin Supreme Court comes in. Justices heard oral arguments in the prayer death case in December and are expected to release their findings Wednesday.
If the convictions are overturned, prosecutors will have to decide whether to try again or dismiss the case. If the convictions are upheld, the Neumann's could appeal to the United State Supreme Court.