The Weston parents convicted in their diabetic daughter’s death want a new trial because they claim jurors never heard their faith healing defense.
Separate juries convicted Dale and Leilani Neumann in 2009 of their daughter Kara’s reckless homicide the year before. The 11-year-old girl became too sick to eat, drink, walk or talk and died on Easter Sunday 2008 from what doctors said was a treatable case of diabetes. Leilani was represented by Gene Linehan, who died last year. Dale was represented by Jay Kronenwetter.
Attorneys representing the Neumanns on appeal have separately filed motions asking for a new trial on similar grounds. The motions suggest that the Neumanns’ trial attorneys were ineffective because they failed to argue that the parents’ sincere belief in faith healing was a complete defense.
“A reasonable attorney would have objected to a set of [jury] instructions that obscured one of the main defenses in this case,” Leilani Neumann’s attorney Byron Lichstein writes in a 15-page motion. Lichstein is the director of the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Criminal Appeals Project.
Marathon County Judge Vincent Howard, who presided over the trial, will hear arguments in Leilani’s case on Monday. A hearing in Dale’s case is scheduled for February 22nd.
The appellate attorneys also argue that the trial attorneys should have asked for a jury instruction that would have explained the Neumanns did not have a legal duty to seek medical care for Kara because they were providing treatment through spiritual means.
The two motions differ slightly. If Howard does not find that Leilani’s trial attorney was ineffective, he should still order a new trial in the interest of justice “because the real controversy was not fully tried,” Lichstein wrote.
Dale’s appellate attorney, Steven Miller, said in his motion that Kronenwetter should have objected to Howard telling the jury that Leilani had earlier been convicted on the same charge.
“The jurors all knew, in other words, that under these same facts, applying the same law, another jury had found Leilani Neumann guilty. This created an impermissible bias against the defendant [Dale] before any evidence was heard,” Miller wrote.