WAUSAU, Wisconsin — A father charged with killing his daughter by praying instead of taking her to a doctor read from the Bible while testifying Thursday that he couldn't seek medical help without disobeying God.
Dale Neumann told the jury he didn't seek medical help for his child because "I can't do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed."
He added: "If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do."
Neumann, 47, is charged with second-degree reckless homicide in the March 23, 2003, death of his 11-year-old daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors say he should have taken 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.
Her father was the last person to testify in his trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday morning.
Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, preached to the jury about his faith in God's healing powers and cried out like he was talking to the Lord. He said he has been a born-again Christian since 1982.
‘Who am I to predict death’?
He testified he thought Madeline had the flu or perhaps a fever but never expected her die. He thought she was in a deep sleep but not unconscious, even though her breathing was labored.
At one point in his nearly four hours of testimony, Neumann cried and nearly whispered to the jury.
"Who am I to predict death when death is an appointed time for all of us?" he asked.
Doctors testified earlier in the trial that Madeline would have had a good chance of surviving if she received medical treatment, including insulin and fluids, before she stopped breathing.
Earlier Thursday, a woman who prayed with the Neumanns and helped give Madeline a sponge bath hours before she died testified she thought the girl had the flu.
"She looked a little pale. I could see that she was weak," Lynn Wilde told the jury. "She would respond when we would call her name. She would make noises. She moved her head."
‘The power of prayer’
Wilde, a loyal member of Neumann's Bible study group, testified for the defense as Neumann's attorney tried to show the father didn't know how ill his daughter was. Wilde said the five adults and three other children at the home prayed and took communion in an effort to heal the girl. She went home and took a nap, expecting the Neumanns to call later and say Madeline was fine and walking again.
"I believe in the power of prayer," Wilde testified.
The girl died about two hours later. Someone called 911 when she stopped breathing.
Neumann's wife, Leilani, testified earlier that she noticed her daughter had been weaker and drank a lot of water — some early symptoms of diabetes — about two weeks before she died. Leilani Neumann was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced Oct. 6.
The prosecutions of the mother and father were separated so that each could be called upon to testify in the case against the other.
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