Wausau - A jury Friday found a central Wisconsin mother guilty of killing her 11-year-old daughter by praying for her to heal instead of rushing her to a doctor.
A Marathon County jury deliberated about four hours before convicting Leilani Neumann, 41, of rural Weston of second-degree reckless homicide. No sentencing date was set. Neumann remains free on bond.
"We have another shot on appeal," defense lawyer Gene Linehan said. "Obviously, there will be an appeal."
Neumann left the courtroom clutching her husband as her three other children, looking stunned, followed. She declined to comment.
Neumann's daughter Madeline died of untreated diabetes March 23, 2008, surrounded by people praying for her. When she suddenly stopped breathing, her parents' business and Bible study partners finally called 911.
Prosecutors contend a reasonable parent would have known something was gravely wrong with Madeline, and her mother recklessly killed her by ignoring obvious symptoms of how gravely ill she was. During closing arguments, Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad described Neumann as a religious zealot who let her daughter, known by the nickname Kara, die as a test of faith.
"Religious extremism can be dangerous," Falstad said. "In this case, it was fatal. Basic medical care would have saved Kara's life - fluids and insulin. There was plenty of time to save Kara's life."
Four hours is a rather quick verdict so the Neumann families claims that they "are Bible-believing, God-believing, Holy Ghost-filled people who want to do right and be right." did not seem to hold much water with the jury. Besides riddle me this if you really believe in the power of prayer then why are you calling 911 and EMS when it fails to bring the anticipated results? In God we trust but we trust medical science even more? EMS is an escape hatch for prayers that can't pass muster? What is the theological justification? Maybe Ms. Neumann can contemplate this while she is spending her twenty-five years in prison.