Neumann on trial for death of daughter

As we discussed in podcast #54, Dale and Leilani Neumann are a Wisconsin couple who allowed their daughter to suffer a prolonged death from diabetes, relying on prayer to heal her rather than seeking medical attention.

Fittingly, Leilani was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and will be sentenced later this year.  Dale’s trial began this week.

This is the third case I’ve reported in a week wherein religion has served as a cover and an enabler for insane or criminal behavior by adults to the detriment of children.  I hate to keep beating a drum over this, but had the Neumanns said “We are atheists and we thought the logical thing to do was nothing, so we let our daughter suffer and die,” friends and family would have said “Are you fucking nuts?” and called the cops.  And Madeline Neumann would be alive today and in the custody of someone better suited to care for her.

Here’s the AP article:

Wis. father saw sickness as ‘test of his faith’
By ROBERT IMRIE, Associated Press Writer Sat Jul 25, 2:56 pm ET

WAUSAU, Wis. – A Wisconsin man accused of killing his daughter by praying instead of seeking lifesaving medical help considered her illness “a test of his faith,” a prosecutor told jurors Saturday.

Dale Neumann, 47, is a “full-Gospel Christian,” who did not know his 11-year-old daughter had diabetes, his defense attorney said. There’s also not “a shred of evidence” Neumann knew his prayers would fail to help his daughter or cause her death, the lawyer said.

Neumann is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the 2008 death of his daughter Madeline Neumann, called Kara by her parents. His wife, Leilani, was convicted of the same charge this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6.

The girl died from undiagnosed diabetes on March 23, 2008, surrounded by people praying at the family’s rural home in Weston in central Wisconsin. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.

Prosecutors contend Neumann recklessly killed the youngest of his four children by ignoring her deteriorating health. They claim the girl was too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk and Neumann had a legal duty to take her to a doctor.

Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard scheduled opening statements during a rare Saturday court session to try to make sure the trial ended by Friday. An eight-man, six-woman jury begins hearing witness testimony Monday.

An Oregon jury on Thursday convicted a father of misdemeanor criminal mistreatment for relying on prayer instead of seeking medical care for his 15-month-old daughter who died of pneumonia and a blood infection in March 2008. The father and mother were acquitted of a more serious manslaughter charge.

Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Lance Leonhard stood next to a picture of a smiling Madeline Neumann on a large TV screen as he told the jury the sweet, mild-mannered child liked arts and crafts and loved her God.

“This case is not about parents having the right to raise their children as they see fit or the right to pray,” he said. “This case is about Madeline Kara Neumann’s needless suffering and death.”

Her parents knew the child was gravely ill – they had used a large syringe to squirt chicken broth in her mouth to give her nourishment, Leonhard said. Still, he said, “They depended solely on God to heal her.”

Dale Neumann told a Bible study friend he considered his daughter’s illness “a test of his faith,” Leonhard said.

No one can survive untreated diabetes, but medical statistics show 998 out of 1,000 people in the same stage of illness as Kara can be successfully treated with fluids and insulin, he said.

Defense attorney Jay Kronenwetter told jurors the efforts of the ambulance attendants or doctors who eventually cared for Kara might have caused her death. It’s also not certain the girl would have lived if she had gotten to doctors earlier, he said.

“Quite likely, what they would have done, the standard procedures, would have hastened her death because of the way diabetes was operating in her body,” Kronenwetter said. “Not every tragedy is a crime.”

Neumann tried to help his daughter, the defense attorney said.

“Dale Neumann solicited the help of numerous individuals to pray,” Kronenwetter said. “He did that because of his faith, because he believed that was what would save his daughter.”

This entry was posted in christianity, civil rights, commentary, news, religion, religious rights and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Neumann on trial for death of daughter

  1. Doug says:

    “There’s also not “a shred of evidence” Neumann knew his prayers would fail”

    And there is also not a shred of evidence that prayer would work. Unlike the proven medical treatment that would almost certainly have saved their daughter’s life.

    I wonder if he would have chosen prayer for himself if he had been suffering like his daughter did.

  2. Hi Doug,

    You know, if Neumann wanted to choose prayer for himself, I have no problem with that. Go ahead a die, as long as I don’t have to pay for it.

    As to relying on prayer for his daughter…here’s the thing. I think that if someone made the claim in court that he believed–truly believed–in the efficacy of prayer, he should be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and committed to a mental institution. (Look at it this way: had Neumann said that, instead of prayer, he was relying on the healing aura of the earth’s mantle to cure his child, would that fly? Of course not, but prayer would.) Although they’ll never admit it to a nonbeliever, 99.9% of Christians only believe in prayer as a sort of cherry-on-the-top when it comes to crisis situations. Any Methodist would rush her child to the emergency room, or take them to a doctor if they’re feeling sick, but then prayer to, shall we say, try to seal the deal.

    So if I were on the jury, Neumann trying to excuse himself by saying he really really really believed that something insane was going to work…

  3. Doug says:

    Perhaps my comment wasn’t clear but I am in aggreement with you regarding the efficacy of prayer.

    It still baffles me what can be excused in the name of religion. Behaviour that otherwise would be condemned, gets a pass as long as it’s done because of someone’s faith.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *