Dale Neumann Trial Begins Thursday

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

His wife's trial is over, now it's Dale Neumann's turn to stand trial.

In May, Leilani Neumann was found guilty of second degree reckless homicide in her daughter Kara's death.

She was convicted of praying for the 11-year-old girl instead of getting medical treatment for her diabetes.

Thursday the girl's father goes on trial, for the same charges.

It all started at 9807 Maplewood Drive in Schofield, where Madeline Kara Neumann lay dying, as her parents prayed for her to be healed.

She died on Easter Sunday 2008.

The county medical examiner ruled untreated diabetes as the cause of death.

A few days later Leilani spoke out, saying she and her husband Dale did nothing wrong, and that they weren't worried about a police investigation.

But perhaps they should have been. On April 28th, former district attorney Jill Falstad announced plans to charge the couple with homicide.

"In our nation we have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. We also give parents some leeway in child rearing however neither is absolute," Falstad said.

They were formally charged two days later.

The case drew major media attention, and a gag order soon went into effect.

Never had there been a freedom of religion case like this in Wisconsin.

"That's what this case is all about and whether the state indeed has a responsibility to explore whether or not this has been parental abuse under this guise of freedom of religion," said Jim Veninga, a professor at UW-Marathon County.

The defense made a motion to throw out the case, arguing the Neumanns are protected under the constitution.

"There's no statute that says you should not pray when you're sick. There's no statute saying you should take your child to the doctor when x, y, or z symptoms occur," said Jay Kronenwetter, Dale Neumann's attorney.

Judge Vincent Howard denied the motion, and the Neumanns pleaded not guilty.

Soon after the family business, a coffee shop called Monkey Mo's, closed and the Neumanns claimed they were broke.

"Yes your honor, they're exploring job possibilities, as you can imagine the publicity that this case has brought has made many opportunities closed to them," Kronenwetter told the judge.

The Neumanns kept their attorneys, and county taxpayers are footing the bill.

In May Leilani went to trial.

Prosecutors built the case that she could see how sick her daughter was, and not getting her medical help caused her death.

The defense countered that the girl's symptoms weren't that easy to spot until it was too late.

The jury deliberated for four hours before the landmark decision.

"We the jury find Leilani Neumann guilty of second degree reckless homicide," a juror read outloud.

Leilani and her husband were silent, showing no emotion, but her stepfather didn't hesitate to speak his mind.

"I don't care how far we have to carry this, there will be exoneration and there will be vindication," Brian Gordon said.

And now it's Dale's turn to be tried. The state will once again try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions caused his daughter's death.

Jury selection begins Thursday.

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