CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Supreme Court upholds verdicts against parents convicted of homicide
The Wisconsin Supreme Court said no today to throwing out criminal convictions against the Neumanns of Weston, for praying instead of calling doctors to keep their dying daughter alive. The justices voted 6-to-1 to uphold guilty verdicts against Dale and Leilani Neumann. Both were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in separate Marathon County trials in 2009. The Neumanns said they had the law on their side when they employed faith healing on their 11-year-old daughter Kara, who died from complications of diabetes on Easter Sunday of 2008. Doctors said there was a good chance Kara would be alive had she been given medical care. Justice David Prosser, the lone dissenter in today’s ruling, said Wisconsin law is not clear on how far immunity is granted for faith-healing. Prosser, a former Republican Assembly speaker, says the Legislature needs to address the subject. The state Justice Department said the homicide charge trumps any legal protection for faith-healing. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said the Neumanns knew that Kara was in a coma-like state for up to 14 hours, and the parents created quote, “an unreasonable and substantial risk of Kara’s death.” Both Neumanns now face their previous sentences – six months in jail, served for one month a year. One parent will be behind bars each March, and the other each September.
The State Supreme Court ruled against a Racine billionaire today, saying his lawyers have no right to inspect the therapy records of a step-daughter he’s accused of molesting. The issue has held up Curt Johnson’s trial for almost 15 months. He’s an heir to the S-C Johnson family fortune. The 57-year-old Johnson was charged in 2011 with repeated child sexual assault for alleged improper conduct over a three-year period, starting after the girl completed sixth-grade. She’s now 17. The defense wanted to know if the girl had a medical condition which might have caused her to perceive or report her step-father’s alleged conduct inaccurately. An appellate court said the girl could not testify until the question of releasing the records was settled. Today’s ruling allows the girl to testify in a trial that’s been held up since April of last year. Even if she does testify, the Supreme Court said the defense still cannot get her therapy records. A new trial date could be set a week from tomorrow, when a status conference is scheduled.
A town constable and part-time sheriff’s officer in northwest Wisconsin is suspected of molesting a 27-year-old woman. 47-year-old Gerald Olson is on administrative leave as the constable for both the village and town of Solon Springs, and his part-time post with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. Police investigators from Superior are looking into the matter. According to authorities, Olson was on duty when he picked up the woman as she was walking on Highway 53 late at night on June 15th. He reportedly offered her a ride to Superior so she could arrange to go to a relative’s house in northern Minnesota. Instead, she claimed the officer took her to his house where he offered alcohol and made unwanted sexual contact. A few hours later, she said Olson dropped her off at a Solon Springs motel.
Relatives of a 13-year-old boy plan to sue the Sun Prairie School District for 150-thousand dollars, after he almost drowned during a physical education class. Lawyers filed a notice of the impending legal action yesterday. That was after Trevonne Allen languished at the bottom of the high school swimming pool for almost three-and-a-half minutes in March. In its legal notice, Allen’s family said only one certified lifeguard was on duty. They accused the district of being negligent in patrolling the area, and protecting Allen and almost 120 other middle school students sent to Sun Prairie High School for two days of swim lessons. WISC TV in Madison said two phy-ed teachers took lifeguard classes about 18 months before the near-drowning – but they were not certified because their paperwork was never filed with the Red Cross. The Sun Prairie school aquatics director jumped in the pool and pulled Allen out. Officials said he resigned from the post in June.
Two former nursing home staffers near Green Bay are charged with felonies, after they allegedly filmed elderly residents while they naked or semi-naked, and shared the images with others. 22-year-old Michelle Bulger of Cecil is free on a one-thousand-dollar cash bond. 20-year-old Ashley Schaumberg of Pulaski is scheduled to make her first court appearance on July 26th. Each is charged with three total felony counts of capturing and exhibiting nude images. Prosecutors said an 84-year-old resident of Brookview Meadows in Howard was filmed while nude from the waist down on a couch. An 81-year-old resident was reportedly filmed while getting assistance for an obstructed bowel. Prosecutors called the incidents disturbing. The Green Bay Press-Gazette said the incident was reported last November, after another nursing home employee told the facility’s owner about it. A lawyer for the facility said both workers were carefully screened before they were hired, and both were fired after an internal investigation.
Three Marinette County sheriff’s deputies are on administrative leave, after they shot an elderly man to death. The shooting capped off a series of incidents late Monday that included an apparent home invasion, and the death of a second man. Autopsies were being performed late yesterday. Officials expect the victims’ names and other details to be released today. A man in his 20’s called sheriff’s deputies around 10 Monday night to say that an armed man was in his house in the town of Pound. Investigators are still trying to find out why – but burglary and robbery are being ruled out for now. A short time later, officers learned that a pick-up truck hit another house and a garage in the same area. The man who made the original 9-1-1 call was found in the vehicle with a gunshot wound. He died later. Deputies then found an S-U-V suspected to be involved in the earlier incidents – and the driver, in his late 70’s, had two guns on him. Officers pinned him in. He reportedly refused to surrender – and when he pointed a gun, three officers fired multiple shots that killed the suspect.