Supreme Court won't hear Weston prayer death case

Green By Press-Gazette, Wisconsin/December 18, 2013

By Shereen Siewert

Wasau -- The U.S. Supreme Court will not take the case of a Weston couple who prayed instead of seeking medical help for their 11-year-old daughter who died from a treatable form of diabetes.

Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston will appear Jan. 30 in Marathon County Circuit Court, where Circuit Court Judge Greg Huber will decide if — and when — the couple will begin serving their court-ordered sentence. Now-retired Marathon County Judge Vincent Howard sentenced each to spend a decade on probation and 30 days in jail every year for six years.

The jail term was to be served by one of the Neumanns in March — the month of daughter Madeline’s death — and by the other defendant in October to ease the burden of caring for the couple’s surviving children. To date, neither Dale nor Leilani Neumann has spent a day in jail.

Steven L. Miller, a defense attorney who represents Dale Neumann, said he will ask Huber to eliminate the jail time altogether for the couple. Attorneys on both sides met Tuesday to discuss the case.

“The long and the short of it is, these people have been through enough,” Miller said of the Neumanns.

The Neumanns could have been sentenced to 25 years in prison each after they were found guilty in separate trials in the death of their daughter. Madeline died in March 2009 after falling ill and gradually becoming critically ill. The Neumanns declined traditional medical treatment in favor of prayer and insisted God would raise their daughter from the dead.

The couple’s sentence was stayed pending an appeal, but the state Supreme Court ruled in July that the couple should have known that they could be held criminally liable if their daughter died. The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 4 declined a request to rule on the case.

Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Lance Leonhard said he will ask the judge in January to lift the stay and order the Neumanns to begin serving their sentences immediately.

“All the issues have been resolved,” Leonhard said. “The judge permitted a stay for the appeals process to conclude. Well, that process has now concluded. There is nowhere else this case can go.”

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