Parents Who Prayed as Daughter Died Guilty of Homicide

Wisconsin's supreme court upholds convictions

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff | Suggested by WarmWeatherGuy

Posted Jul 3, 2013 2:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Wisconsin couple is headed either to jail or the US Supreme Court after a state court upheld their homicide convictions in the faith-healing death of their daughter, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dale and Leilani Neumann prayed over 11-year-old Madeline instead of calling a doctor as she died from easily treatable complications of diabetes in 2008. They were convicted of reckless homicide the following year, but their 180-day jail sentences were put on hold as they appealed. The state Supreme Court sided against them this morning, leaving the highest court in the land as their only remaining legal option. It's unclear whether they will appeal.

Their attorney argued they should be shielded from penalty because parents who choose spiritual treatment for their kids can't be charged with child abuse, reports AP. Prosecutors said that's true, but all bets are off if the child dies. The couple also made the case that it was impossible for them to know their daughter was on the brink of death because the symptoms were vague. Yes, and that's the whole the whole point of calling a doctor in the first place, the court concluded. "If we were to adopt the parents' reasoning, no prayer-treating parent would know what point is beyond 'a substantial risk of death' until the child actually stopped breathing and died."

A 2007 file photo of the late Madeline Kara Neumann of Weston, Wisconsin.   (AP Photo/Wausau Daily Herald, Butch McCartney, File)
Leilani and Dale Neumann leave court in this 2008 file photo.   (AP Photo/Wausau Daily Herald, Rob Orcutt, File)
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