Crime and Court Roundup: Supreme Court justices could take months to decide Wausau prayer death caseWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin Supreme Court justices did not give much of an indication yesterday on how they might rule in the prayer death case from the Wausau area.
Wisconsin Supreme Court justices did not give much of an indication yesterday on how they might rule in the prayer death case from the Wausau area. The state’s highest court heard arguments on a request by Dale and Leilani Neumann to throw out their 2009 convictions for second-degree homicide. The couple prayed instead of getting medical help, in the days before their 11-year-old daughter Kara died from treatable diabetes. State law allows faith healing without making parents liable for child abuse. Justice Department lawyers said the homicide laws take precedence when a child dies – but the Neumann’s attorneys said the law is not clear on that point. Justice Pat Roggensack said the juries in the couple’s original trials ruled that the defendants crossed the line – and she asked why the Supreme Court should not rely on what the jurors found. None of the other justices shed light on what they might be thinking. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said the court was quote, “left with very difficult legal questions in a tragic case.” It’s not known when the court will issue its decision, but it’s expected to take several months.
Starting in January, 20 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will have new chief prosecutors who will try to punish lawbreakers. And the state Justice Department is working to get those new district attorneys up-to-speed. Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte says his agency provides on-going training for prosecutors, and special sessions for new D-A’s that began right after last month’s elections. Voters placed 20 new D-A’s into office. Korte says the large number is rare – but it’s a sign of the times in the legal industry. He said many prosecutors left to make more money in private practice – and as a result, it’s hard to keep good, experienced attorneys who are willing to work on the people’s behalf. A U-W Madison study in 2011 showed that most of the 146 prosecutors surveyed planned to leave their jobs at any time, after being stuck with entry-level salaries for years. Lawmakers tried but failed earlier this year to create 17 pay grades designed to give regular raises to prosecutors, who are state employees even though they work in county courthouses. One of those lawmakers is about join the ranks of the D-A’s. Stevens Point Democrat Lou Molepske Junior was elected as the new chief prosecutor in Portage County.
A Green Bay man is on trial this week for allegedly stabbing his live-in girlfriend to death. 32-year-old Richard Gardipee is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the June 30th death of 26-year-old Wendy Garcia at the couple’s home. Police said the two got into a physical fight, after she accused him of abusing pain-killers. They reportedly threw things at each other – and authorities said he later stabbed Garcia with a kitchen knife. Gardipee’s lawyer said his client acted in self-defense. The trial was expected to last for most of this week in Brown County Circuit Court.
A pastor and private school administrator in Milwaukee has pleaded guilty to filing a false income tax return. 41-year-old Gregory Goner struck a plea deal in which two other counts were dropped – stealing federal funds and wire fraud. He also agreed to pay 68-thousand-dollars in restitution to the I-R-S. Goner was the pastor of the Spirit Governed Baptist Church in Milwaukee – and he was the president of the Excel Academy. The school received federal grants, as well as state tax funds to educate low-income kids under the state’s voucher program. Prosecutors said Goner filed a false income tax return in 2007 when his church bought investment properties for him, covered repairs, and gave him 75-hundred dollars for his personal use. His lawyer said Goner made mistakes with his tax forms – but there was no merit to the fraud and theft counts.