CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Wausau couple may have to serve jail for praying to get medical help for their daughter
A Wausau area couple may finally have to serve the jail sentences they were given over four years ago, for praying instead of getting medical help for their dying daughter. Dale and Leilani Neumann were allowed to stay free while appealing their 2009 convictions. But those appeals ran out this month, when the U-S Supreme Court refused to consider their case. Now, Dale Neumann's attorney is trying to prevent the couple from serving their jail time -- one month a year for six years. Attorney Steven Miller says both Neumanns have suffered enough. Circuit Judge Greg Huber will have the final say on that. A hearing is set for January 30th in Marathon County. The couple was convicted of reckless homicide after their 11-year-old daughter Kara died on Easter Sunday of 2009 from complications of diabetes. The Neumanns said they were exercising their religious freedoms by praying that God heal their daughter instead of letting doctors handle what was rendered a treatable condition. Besides the jail time, the Neumanns were told by now-retired Circuit Judge Vincent Howard to spend 10 years on probation.
A central Wisconsin man is due in court January 13th on charges that he broke into his sister's house and stabbed her pet kitten to death. 25-year-old Brian Sentkowski of Nekoosa is charged with felony fatal animal mistreatment, and misdemeanor trespassing. According to Wood County prosecutors, Sentkowski said he was intoxicated when he went to his sister's house on November 27th and was upset that nobody was home. He was also reportedly upset about his own drinking, and he claimed to take his anger out on the first thing he saw -- the kitten. Authorities said he stabbed the pet and dumped the body in a nearby ditch. Online court records show that Sentkowski was charged in October with his second drunk driving incident. He also faces a Wood County citation for possessing drug paraphernalia. Trials in both those cases are set for January 29th.
A Fond du Lac man is being held under an 850-thousand-dollar bond, after he had a court appearance yesterday for a house fire and shooting at police during a standoff. 40-year-old Shannon Rogler was on a video hook-up from his jail cell on charges of attempted homicide, burglary, arson, and failing to comply with an officer while in custody. Prosecutors said Rogler started his former house on fire December 9th, then held police at bay at his apartment where over two dozen shots were fired before he surrendered. Officials said two armor-piercing bullets came from a .50-caliber weapon -- one of a number of guns that officers found in the apartment. Nobody was hurt, although police said three nearby houses were struck by the gunfire. Rogler is due back in court January 16th, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial. A cousin, Jim Lueck, tells the Fond du Lac Reporter that Rogler was depressed and intended to kill himself -- and he had no intention of killing police officers. Lueck said Rogler was depressed because he lost his parents and a grandparent, his old home was foreclosed upon, and his girlfriend started seeing another man.
'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through Wisconsin, con artists continue to stir. In the latest rip-off, a caller says you may be a respondent in a court case -- and you might have your wages garnished if you don't press a key on your phone, talk to a litigator, and presumably pay a settlement. Sandy Chalmers of the state's Consumer Protection agency says the calls can be downright frightening -- but it's really a new twist on an old con job. Chalmers says the callers never say who they are, and no legitimate business would ever contact you in such a manner. Chalmers says you should never hit any keys during a phone call, and never talk to a live person in that situation. Even if you don't give up money right away, Chalmers says scammers could sell your number to other crooks who might see you as easy prey. And if you call anybody, she says to call the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection's help-line.
Governor Scott Walker is doing his annual one-on-one interviews with State Capitol reporters -- and they've produced a few nuggets of interesting news. One involves the secret John Doe probe into allegations that Walker's campaign illegally coordinated its 2012 recall election campaign with outside conservative groups. Walker told the A-P he hopes the investigation ends soon. Otherwise quote, "It's like trying to have a discussion with both hands tied behind your back." The Republican Walker refused to say whether he has met with investigators, or opened a new legal defense fund. Also, Walker told W-T-M-J T-V in Milwaukee that his office will hire outside advisers as early as next week, to help him decide whether to approve the proposed Menominee Tribe Hard Rock Casino in Kenosha. A decision is still a few months away. The governor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he'll either sign or veto the bill which makes it easier for public schools to keep their Indian team names and logos. If there's no action by tomorrow, the bill will automatically take effect. Walker hinted that he would sign it. Also, he told A-P that his New Year's resolutions are to exercise more, eat healthier, and spend more time with his family despite the pressures of his re-election campaign for next fall.
An official of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese was named yesterday as the new bishop for Upper Michigan, despite a previous admission that he destroyed records in sex abuse cases. Pope Francis chose Father John Doerfler as the new church leader for the Diocese of Marquette Michigan. He'll be installed early next year. The 49-year-old Doerfler is the vicar general of the Green Bay Diocese. He's a native of Appleton. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site posted a deposition that Doerfler gave two years ago in a lawsuit involving convicted pedophile and former Fox Valley priest John Patrick Feeney. In his sworn statement, Doerfler said he destroyed psychological reports of alleged child-molesting priests, except for cases in which claims were pending at the time. He said it was part of a record-retention policy adopted by former Green Bay Bishop David Zubik. It was not immediately known whether the Vatican knew about Doerfler's deposition. Peter Isley of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests criticized Doerfler's appointment and called it "really perplexing." Current Green Bay Bishop David Ricken called Doerfler a "trusted adviser" on moral and canon-related issues. Doerfler was ordained in 1991 in Green Bay.
A 14-year-old boy is being held for the suspected murder of a 52-year-old man in Ashland. William Saari died at his home on Monday night. He was still alive when police and rescuers arrived at the house, but they couldn't save him. Police said the youngster is in an undisclosed Wisconsin detention facility. They did not say how the youngster was connected to the victim -- and for now, they're not saying the type of weapon that may have been used. Ashland Police Captain James Gregoire said his officers are confident that the 14-year-old was responsible for Saari's death, but it would take awhile to sort out the evidence. Counselors were made available yesterday for Ashland school students and staffers who needed help coming to grips with the incident.