WI Court Affirms Homicide Conviction for Parents Who Relied on Prayer


The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the homicide conviction of Dale and Leilani Neumann, whose 11-year-old daughter, Kara, died while they relied on prayer and faith in God to treat her illness rather than conventional medicine, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The court ruled, 6 to 1, on Wednesday that the Neumanns were properly tried and convicted of second-degree reckless homicide for failing to provide emergency medical treatment.

“A parent has a legal duty to provide medical care for a child if necessary,” the court said. Wisconsin law provides an exemption for those who rely on spiritual means through prayer to treat a child's illness. The provision applies only to cases of alleged child abuse, not homicide, the majority justices said. “When a parent fails to provide medical care to his or her child, creates an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm, is aware of that risk, and causes the death of the child, the parent is guilty of second-degree reckless homicide,” Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said.

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