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Parents Get Jail for Relying on Prayer in Daughter's Death

The Wisconsin parents who relied on prayer instead of seeking medical attention for their dying daughter have received six months in jail and 10 years probation. Dale and Leilani Neumann were convicted in separate trials of second degree homicide. They could have received up to 25 years in prison.

Kara Neumann, 11, died in March 2008 surrounded by a prayer group at her family's home in rural Weston in central Wisconsin. It was later determined she had an undiagnosed, but treatable, form of diabetes. Her parents said at their trials that they believed healing came from God, and that they never expected Kara to die.

But prosecutors countered that the Neumanns recklessly killed their youngest of four children by ignoring obvious symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk. They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but relied totally on prayer for healing.

In handing down the sentence, Marathon county circuit court Judge Vincent Howard told the Neumanns they were "very good people, raising their family, who made a bad decision, a reckless decision. God probably works through other people," he told the parents, "some of them doctors."

Howard's sentence is actually quite unique. Instead of serving the six months all at once, Howard ordered them to serve one month per year for six years, so they could "think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this." Since they still have three children, one parent would serve the term in March and the other in September.

Howard quickly stayed the jail sentence while the Neumanns appeal their convictions.

But the probation goes into effect right away. That includes having their surviving children undergo regular and random health checks until they reach the age of 18, and seeking medical attention if their children become seriously ill or injured.

At the sentencing, Leilani Neumann told the judge that she doesn't think they've been treated properly, but didn't go into details. "We feared showing remorse for the prosecution taking it wrong," she said.

Read more on Father's Conviction in "Death by Prayer" Case Just?


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