Judge Gives Probation to Parents in Prayer-death Case

WBAY ABC News, Wisconsin/October 7, 2009

The Central Wisconsin parents convicted in their daughter's death will not go to prison but will spend ten years on probation and some time in jail.

A judge sentenced Dale and Leilani Neumann Tuesday afternoon for the death of their eleven-year-old daughter Kara. She died of complications from untreated diabetes while her parents prayed over her instead of seeking medical attention as her condition worsened.

Earlier this year, separate juries found each of the parents guilty of second-degree reckless homicide, a charge that carries up to 25 years in prison.

Both parents spoke to the judge at their sentencing hearing, calling Kara's death an act of God, reading Biblical passages, and saying the only thing they're guilty of is following their faith.

"Dale and I acted with love toward our daughter to the best way we could have, in the best way we could, because we love her," Leilani Neumann testified.

"Even if she would have been taken to the hospital, as everyone thinks should have been the case, there's only hypothetical speculation. There's no substantiating facts, just hypothetical speculation as to whether she would have even lived," Dale Neumann said.

Prosecutors argue the Neumanns painted themselves as victims of their religion and showed no remorse that their youngest daughter died.

Assistant District Attorney Lamont Jacobson said, "I feel sorry for the Neumanns because they're horribly misguided and likely will come away from this experience having learned precious little."

Judge Vincent Howard asked, "Did God say, 'Well, Kara, come to me,' or when Kara arrived did he ask, 'Why are you here 70 years too soon?'"

The judge called the Neumanns good people who made a reckless decision.

The judge imposed conditions on their probation. There will be a month served in jail each year for the next six years in March or September - the anniversary of Kara's birth and death, respectively.

They must allow random visits and checks by the public health nurse, and they are required to seek medical assistance in certain circumstances.

The judge said in court this was a very different case than many because of the freedom of religion issue, but he said he examined this case thoroughly before sentencing.

Defense teams for both Dale and Leilani Neumann plan to appeal the convictions.

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