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WAUSAU (WAOW) – The Weston parents who prayed while their daughter died of untreated diabetes are “financially ruined” and having them spend time in jail now would serve little good, their attorneys argue.
“The Neumanns' flawless record on probation demonstrates that probation is more than sufficient to provide the necessary deterrence and public protection,” according to a motion filed in Marathon County Circuit Court asking a judge modify their sentence.
Dale and Leilani Neumann were sentenced in 2009 to six months in jail and 10 years' probation in the March 2008 death of their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline.
Juries convicted each parent of second-degree reckless homicide, agreeing with prosecutors that they recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring obvious symptoms of severe illness.
Prosecutors said the parents had a legal duty to take the girl to a doctor but relied totally on prayer for healing even though the girl became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk.
When he was sentenced, Dale Neumann, now 52, told the judge, “I am guilty of trusting my Lord's wisdom completely. ...Guilty of following Jesus Christ when the whole world does not understand.”
In sentencing the couple, a judge said they made their daughter ”a martyr” to their faith.
The parents have served no jail time as that part of the sentence was put on hold while they appealed the convictions. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to take the case.
A new judge in the case, Greg Huber, has scheduled a hearing Jan. 30 to consider the motion seeking to have the jail time dropped from the sentence.
The motion argues argues that the Neumanns' other children are now adults, out of harm's way for a repeat incident, and jail time is not needed to send the proper message about the crime.
“There has been one unmistakeable message to the Neumanns and others who might practice prayer treatment: doing so will place your entire lives under a microscope, consume all your financial resources and most of your time, result in permanent felony convictions and bring ongoing governmental supervision of the most intimate parts of your lives,” the motion said.
“If such potential prayer treatment practitioners are to be deterred, surely the Neumanns' experience the last five years is sufficient,” the motion said.
The motion calls the Neumanns “model probationers,” and they have followed all the rules.
Putting the couple in jail would waste “thousands” of taxpayer dollars, the motion said.
The motion said the Neumanns, who have been married 26 years, did many things well as parents. Two of their children are “positive contributors” to the community – one works at a preschool and is active in her church and the other received a scholarship for media studies.
Their other child suffers from depression and needs the parents' assistance, the motion said.
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