A Wisconsin man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter by praying instead of seeking medical care was found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide.
Dale Neumann, 47, was convicted in the March 23, 2003, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or speak. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.
Neumann's 41-year-old wife, Leilani, was convicted on the same charge in the spring and is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 6. Both face up to 25 years in prison.
Their case is believed to be the first in Wisconsin involving faith healing in which someone died and another person was charged with a homicide.
The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated about 15 hours over two days before convicting Neumann. Jurors submitted four questions to Marathon County Circuit Judge Vincent Howard before reaching a verdict. In one, the panel asked whether Neumann's beliefs in faith healing made him "not liable" for not taking his daughter to the hospital even if he knew she wasn't feeling well.
Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.
"If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God," Neumann testified. "I am not believing what he said he would do."
Marathon County Assistant District Attorney LaMont Jacobson told jurors Friday that Neumann was "overwhelmed by pride" in his interpretation of the Bible and selfishly let Madeline die as a test of faith.
Neumann knew he should have taken his daughter to a doctor and minimized her illness when speaking with investigators, Jacobson said, calling Neumann no different than a drunken driver who remarks he only had a couple of beers.
The father said Thursday he thought Madeline had the flu or a fever, and several relatives and family friends testified they also did not realize how sick she was.
Doctors testified that Madeline would have had a good chance of survival if she received medical care, including insulin and fluids, before she stopped breathing. They said the 911 call came too late.
Defense attorney Jay Kronenwetter said Neumann sincerely believed praying would heal his daughter and he did nothing criminally wrong.
"Dale Neumann was doing what he thought would work for his daughter," Kronenwetter said. "He was administering faith healing. He thought it was working."
Of course, the praying didn't work, Kronenwetter said: "He was terribly wrong and no one feels that more than Dale Neumann."