Couple in faith-healing case get probation

Oct. 7, 2009 at 3:59 PM
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WAUSAU, Wis., Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A Wisconsin judge has sentenced a couple convicted for praying instead of getting medical help for their dying daughter to a short jail term and probation.

In his ruling Tuesday, Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard granted a request to Dale and Leilani Neumann to delay their incarceration until their case is heard in a regional appellate court, the Wausau Daily Herald reported Wednesday.

The judge sentenced the couple to six months in jail, to be served over a six-year period, and 10 years of probation.

The Neumanns, convicted of reckless homicide for praying for their dying 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, rather than taking her to a doctor, could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

Howard said a series of state and federal courts likely will rule on the case, which could set legal precedent in Wisconsin about when faith healing becomes a crime.

Madeline Kara Neumann died March 23, 2008, of complications from undiagnosed diabetes, an autopsy report said. During their trial this August, Dale and Leilani Neumann testified their daughter seemed tired

in the days before her death and they prayed for her when her condition worsened. The Neumanns said they believe prayer and God can heal all things.

"Due process is a very fundamental, procedural thing the courts take very seriously," said Shawn Peters, a University of Wisconsin-Madison religion professor and author of "When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law." "For me, it underscores the need for a public policy solution to clarify the laws."

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