The state Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will hear the case involving a Weston couple whose daughter died after they chose to pray for her recovery.
Dale and Leilani Neumann were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in separate trials in 2009 after their daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, died. The Neumann’s argued they believed in faith healing, and prayed for Kara’s recovery instead of seeking medical attention.
After their trials, the Neumann’s argued the jury instructions violated their constitutional rights.
But, the state argued that the prayer exception does not apply in this case because the child was sick and the parents had a medical obligation to their child.
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Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, of Wisconsin, died of undiagnosed diabetes on March 23, 2008. The parents were charged with second-degree reckless homicide and convicted. Here is the original story from the NY Times. They were sentenced to 30 days in jail each year for the next six years and were placed on 10 years’ probation. Weird sentence. They have other children but were apparently required to provide medical services for them as part of the sentence. This was an interesting quote from a legal professor:
“The sentences tend to be halfway punishments where you have relatively mild penalties imposed on parents who are found to be legally guilty of having caused a child’s death,” Mr. Peters said. “It underscores how uneasy we are both politically and culturally when it comes to regulating religious conduct even when the consequences are disastrous.”
What a mess. It’s clearly time we stop deferring to religious rights when lives are at stake. It’s hoped that a WI Supreme Court ruling will be decisive at least for that state.