Homicide charges for praying parents

April 28, 2008 12:53:40 PM PDT
A couple who prayed as their 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes will be charged with second-degree reckless homicide, a prosecutor said Monday. "It is very surprising, shocking that she wasn't allowed medical intervention," Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad said.

Madeline Neumann, daughter of Dale and Leilani Neumann, died March 23 at the family's rural Weston home. An autopsy determined she died from undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body.

The Neumanns each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Charges were being filed later Monday, Falstad said.

Falstad said the Neumanns have cooperated with investigators and are not under arrest. They have agreed to make an initial court appearance Wednesday, she said.

The couple and their lawyer did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

Leilani Neumann, 40, told AP previously she never expected her daughter to die. The family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God, but they have nothing against doctors, she said.

Dale Neumann, a former police officer, has said he has friends who are doctors and started CPR "as soon as the breath of life left" his daughter's body.

Madeline, who was being home-schooled, was in good health until she started getting tired about two weeks before she died, her mother has said. When the situation got worse over Easter weekend, "we stayed fast in prayer then," Leilani Neumann said. "We believed that she would recover."

According to a search warrant request, the girl's grandmother told investigators she had been ill for several days, was "very tired," and wanted to be held by her mother. By March 22, Madeline couldn't walk or talk, her grandmother said.

The grandmother said she told Leilani Neumann to take the girl to the doctor but the mother said her daughter "would be fine and God would heal her," the court record said.

The grandmother eventually contacted a daughter-in-law in California, who called police on a non-emergency line to report the girl was in a coma and needed medical help. An ambulance was dispatched to the home shortly before some friends in the home called 911 to report the girl had stopped breathing, authorities said.

The Neumanns said they moved to Weston, a suburb of Wausau in central Wisconsin, from California about two years ago to open a coffee shop and be closer to other relatives. The couple has three other children, ages 13 to 16.

The family does not belong to an organized religion or faith, Leilani Neumann has said.

In March, an Oregon couple who belong to a church that preaches against medical care and believes in treating illness with prayer were charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment in the death of their 15-month-old daughter. The toddler died March 2 of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection that could have been treated with antibiotics, the state medical examiner's office said.

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