July 26, 2014

Supreme Court asked to take up prayer death case

A state appeals court has asked the state Supreme Court to decide whether jurors properly convicted two Weston parents who chose to pray over their dying diabetic daughter instead of taking her to a doctor.

“The statutory construction and constitutional issues raised in these appeals are appropriately decided by the Supreme Court rather than an error-correcting court,” the Wausau-based Third District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

“We submit that it is appropriate for Wisconsin’s highest court to determine the scope of the prayer treatment exception and to inform trial courts regarding the appropriate jury instructions when the exception is raised in a reckless homicide case.”

The appellate court’s decision to certify the case to the Supreme Court does not mean the high court will automatically take the case. At least four of the seven justices must decide whether to hear the appeal, a court spokesman said.

The decision means Dale and Leilani Neumann’s fate is far from settled, though many legal analysts had expected the case to eventually make it to the state Supreme Court.

Jurors separately convicted the parents of second-degree reckless homicide in 2009 after their 11-year-old daughter died on Easter Sunday 2008 from a treatable case of diabetes. The couple refused to seek medical help for the girl, believing that their faith in God would heal her.

AUDIO: Matt Lehman reports (:34)