WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – The State Supreme Court has accepted the Weston prayer death case.
A state appeals court asked the Supreme Court back in May to decide whether jurors properly convicted two Weston parents who chose to pray over their dying diabetic daughter instead of taking her to a doctor.
Jurors separately convicted the parents of second-degree reckless homicide in 2009 after their 11-year-old daughter died on Easter Sunday 2008 from a treatable case of diabetes. The couple refused to seek medical help for the girl, believing that their faith in God would heal her.
In their appeal, the Neumanns argued that jury instructions in the case prevented them from from using a privilege to direct their child's medical care with prayer if they desired and was a further violation of their freedom to practice their religion. The state argued that the prayer exception is not a defense against the reckless homicide convictions they both received, and that the execption doesn't keep the state from imposing a medical obligation on a parent necessary to preserve a child’s life.
“The statutory construction and constitutional issues raised in these appeals are appropriately decided by the supreme court rather than an error-correcting court,” the Wausau-based Third District Court of Appeals ruled in May.
“We submit that it is appropriate for Wisconsin’s highest court to determine the scope of the prayer treatment exception and to inform trial courts regarding the appropriate jury instructions when the exception is raised in a reckless homicide case.”