25 Aug 2008

Parents who prayed as daughter died ask judge to drop charges

Wausau Daily Herald - Wisconsin
August 20, 2008

by Jeff Starck

Defense attorneys asked a judge Tuesday to drop charges against a town of Weston couple who chose to pray rather than seek medical attention for their dying daughter.

Dale and Leilani Neumann pleaded not guilty during a court appearance to felony charges of second-degree reckless homicide.
Each faces a 25-year prison sentence if convicted.
The Neumanns' 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, died March 23 from complications of untreated diabetes, according to a medical examiner's report. The Neumanns say they never knew their daughter had diabetes.
The motion filed Tuesday to have the case dismissed argues that the charges are "unconstitutionally vague" and infringe upon the couple's rights to freely exercise religion and their ability to raise their children.
The motion says that the current reckless homicide charge conflicts with the state statute on physical abuse of a child. State law says a person is not guilty of the physical abuse offense if the person is providing a child with treatment through prayer in accordance with their religion.

Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad previously said that argument does not apply to a homicide charge.
Both sides have acknowledged that this case could be argued at some point by the state Supreme Court.
Jay Kronenwetter, who represents Dale Neumann, said he expects to file additional documents with the court next week that support a dismissal of charges..
Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard ordered a safety plan last month that included a court-appointed overseer and bi-weekly medical checkups for the couple's three surviving children, ages 13, 15 and 17.
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