Six-month jail term for parents who forsook doctor for prayer


MADISON – The unrepentant parents of a sick Wisconsin girl who died after they turned to prayer instead of getting medical help which could have saved her were jailed for six months yesterday.

Dale and Leilani Neumann could have received up to 25 years in prison for second-degree homicide in the March 2008 death of 11- year-old Madeline, who died of a treatable form of diabetes.

Instead Judge Vincent Howard jailed them for a month each year for the next six years, after telling them they were “very good people, raising their family, who made a bad decision, a reckless decision”.

“God probably works through other people,” he told the parents, “some of them doctors”.

Prosecutors said the Neumanns recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring obvious symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk. They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but relied totally on prayer for healing.

The girl, known as Kara, died on the floor of the family’s rural home as people surrounded her and prayed. A friend finally called the emergency services after she stopped breathing.

“We are here today because to some, you made Kara a martyr to your faith,” Judge Howard told the parents.

In evidence and videotaped interviews with police, the parents said they believed healing came from God and that they never expected their daughter to die as they prayed for her and summoned others to do the same.

During the sentencing hearing, Leilani Neumann (41) told the judge her family was loving and forgiving and had wrongly been portrayed as religious zealots.

“I do not regret trusting truly in the Lord for my daughter’s health,” she said.

Dale Neumann (47) read from the Bible and told the judge that he loved his daughter. “I am guilty of trusting my Lord’s wisdom completely . . . guilty of asking for heavenly intervention. Guilty of following Jesus Christ . . . guilty of obeying my God,” he said.

The judge ordered the couple to serve one month in jail each year for six years so the parents could “think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this” .

One parent would serve the term in March and the other in September. The judge delayed the sentences while the couple’s convictions are appealed.

“We live by faith,” Dale Neumann said afterwards. “We are completely content with what the Lord has allowed to come down, but He is not done yet.” – (AP)