Freak Sentence for Dale & Leilani Neumann

YOU recall the horrific case of Dale & Leilani Neumann, creationists who killed their daughter in a prolonged and agonizing faith-healing program instead of taking her to a doctor for what was a treatable condition. See: The Wages of Stupid.

In that post we were delighted to report that the father of the murdered girl had been convicted of causing her death, as his wife had been a few months earlier in a separate trial. But the deadly duo hadn’t yet been sentenced. That has now happened, and we regret to report the results.

In the Irish Times we read Six-month jail term for parents who forsook doctor for prayer. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The unrepentant parents of a sick Wisconsin girl who died after they turned to prayer instead of getting medical help which could have saved her were jailed for six months yesterday.

Six months? Only six months? Let’s read on:

Dale and Leilani Neumann could have received up to 25 years in prison for second-degree homicide in the March 2008 death of 11- year-old Madeline, who died of a treatable form of diabetes.

Instead Judge Vincent Howard jailed them for a month each year for the next six years, after telling them they were “very good people, raising their family, who made a bad decision, a reckless decision”.

Six months would have been an unbelievably lenient sentence, but this is worse because it isn’t even six consecutive months. The child-killers will serve only one month a year. That’s their penalty for behaving like savages and causing their little girl’s slow death. And the judge tells them they’re “very good people.”

We continue:

Prosecutors said the Neumanns recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring obvious symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk. They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but relied totally on prayer for healing.

Right, and the prosecutors did a good job. We congratulate them. The deranged parents were convicted in two separate trials. But after that, things went horribly wrong at the sentencing stage. A mere six months, spread over six years. That’s nothing! It’s less bother than a hitch in the Army Reserve. Here’s more:

During the sentencing hearing, Leilani Neumann (41) told the judge her family was loving and forgiving and had wrongly been portrayed as religious zealots. “I do not regret trusting truly in the Lord for my daughter’s health,” she said.

Yes, just a loving family, “wrongly been portrayed as religious zealots.” Can you handle any more of this? Here you go:

Dale Neumann (47) read from the Bible and told the judge that he loved his daughter. “I am guilty of trusting my Lord’s wisdom completely . . . guilty of asking for heavenly intervention. Guilty of following Jesus Christ . . . guilty of obeying my God,” he said.

We can’t comment on that. One more excerpt:

We live by faith,” Dale Neumann said afterwards. “We are completely content with what the Lord has allowed to come down, but He is not done yet.”

This whole affair is sick, tragic, and insane. We’re including the judge in that description because of his obvious sympathy for the killers. We strongly suspect that he too is a creationist.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Freak Sentence for Dale & Leilani Neumann

  1. Jay Kronenwetter, Mr Neumann’s lawyer, said in an interview with BBC radio:

    “My client sees spiritual treatment as the proper medicine and I suspect the people who want harsher punishment see Western medicine as the proper medicine, I guess therein lies the difference. My clients just happen to have a belief that is very outside of our social norm.

    That’s quite some ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card…

  2. That makes me sick. This judge had a chance to send a message to other wackaloons and now teh crazees are going to think it’s ok not to get treatment for their children. Oh well. Survival of the fittest in action I guess… 😦

  3. Do we know if the judge removed custody for the remaining kids? I’m frankly more concerned that they could do the same thing to three more kids than I am angry at the lax punishment. (Granted the two are related: one month/year isn’t much of a deterrent.)

  4. Well, when one of them gets sick, they cannot be allowed anywhere near a hospital, clinic or doctor.
    And when they drop dead, it is God’s Will.

  5. Our friends at Little Green Footballs have a link to this thread. Y’all try not to give them a bad impression.

  6. Michael Vick spent longer in prison for killing dogs.

    Know people whove spent longer in jail for drug possession.

    Kill your kid, though, meh– 6 months in county jail, apparently.

  7. ERV says: “Michael Vick spent longer in prison for killing dogs.”

    He coulda got off if he played the creationism card.

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    Is that judge elected or appointed? If he is elected, then get his ass out.

    In my home state we elect judges, but since they can’t campaign or give party affiliations, you have to follow court cases regularly in order to know who’s worth the trouble to vote against.

    But a judge who makes a decision like this, should be easy to get rid of.

    This guy got twenty years for leaving a baby in a van. It was a mistake, but he ran a day care center, so it wasn’t his baby.

    Parents who negligently kill THEIR OWN children, for some reason are treated much differently, as this article shows:

  9. Just curious, why are we reading this from an Irish newspaper instead of something closer to the venue?

  10. What gets me is that it seems the parents feel that they did nothing wrong and, if they have the choice, they will do the same thing again. It must have been “god’s will” that their child died or maybe they just didn’t pray hard enough.

    I always wonder about people like this. How far do they go? If the kid had fallen and broken an arm or a leg, would they have just prayed over her or taken her to the ER?

  11. I see in the Wassau Daily Herald ( ) that the parents are appealing their conviction and it may be years (if at all) before they serve any jail time.

    It seems they were also sentenced to 10 years probation which I guess is on hold pending the appeal.

    “The probation, to begin immediately, orders that the Neumanns’ two surviving juvenile children have regular and random health checks until they are 18; that the couple seek medical attention if the children become seriously ill or injured; and that Dale and Leilani Neumann perform 120 hours of community service, pay restitution and submit DNA samples.

    Howard provided a list of conditions determining when the children should be taken to the doctor.”

    Violation of the probation could earn them an additional 6 months in jail. It is unclear if that would be served all at once or one month a year.

  12. On the other hand, where do we draw the line between religious freedom, parental rights and, the state’s interest in child protection? Not an easy question. A lot of people believe in the power of prayer, that it can cause miracles to occur. At what point can you legislate: enough prayer, take the kid to a doctor? Do you want the state legislating when you should seek medical attention for your kids?

  13. RogerE asks: “Do you want the state legislating when you should seek medical attention for your kids?”

    No, but people should be held responsible when their behavior causes injury to others. I guess it’s a jury question.

  14. “I guess it’s a jury question.”
    Uh, that depends on what the laws (i.e. legislation) are. If the behavior isn’t illegal, it never gets to a jury.

  15. What about vaccinations? Most (if not all) states require certain vaccinations for school kids. Many parents are concerned because they have heard that the vaccinations may cause autism. If the kid comes down with a disease that he was supposed to get vaccinated against, do you prosecute the parents?

    What about the latest H1N1 controversy? Kids are especially at risk and some have died from it. Parents are concerned about the safety of the new vaccine and I’ve heard many say they won’t have their kids vaccinated with it. If a kid dies from it and their parents chose not to have them vaccinated should the parents be prosecuted?

    As I said, “where do we draw the line”?

  16. OT but must address–
    … the safety of the new vaccine…

    The swine flu vaccine is the exact same formulation we have had forever.

    Its like if you bought a bag of Skittles (seasonal flu vaccine), Skittles came out with a new flavor, and was like, ‘We dont have this new flavor in the regular mix yet, but you can buy it separately’ (swine flu vaccine).

    Next year, the bag of Skittles will contain the new flavor already mixed in (next years seasonal flu vaccine).


    [/virologist rant]

  17. Ya know, I get that y’all don’t like Christianity and creationism. Well, I am a Christian and a creationist. And seriously, I used to know these folks personally (in California). What you maybe don’t realize is that if they HAD gotten the sentences this act deserved they would have seen themselves as God’s martyrs suffering for “the cause.” They would have seen it as confirmation of their righteousness.

    I too wanted the full weight of the law to fall upon them. But in lieu of that, the fact is that they have lost a child. However vindicated they may “feel” by the court’s leniency, nothing changes that. And the God I believe in has a lot longer memory than the jurisprudence of our day.

  18. MicheleB says: “Ya know, I get that y’all don’t like Christianity and creationism.”

    No, you don’t get it. It’s creationism we criticize around here, not Christianity. As for the punishment given to your friends, it doesn’t matter what they think about it, and it’s not our concern what may happen to them in the next life. In this world, here and now, they received virtually no punishment for a fiendish murder.