Wisconsin prayer death trial goes to jury


Posted on 22nd May 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 5/22/2009 4:18 PM

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — A jury has begun deliberating in the trial of a mother who prayed instead of seeking medical help for her dying daughter.

Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad said Friday in her closing argument that 41-year-old Leilani Neumann let her 11-year-old daughter Madeline die of untreated diabetes as a test of faith.

Neumann has been charged with second-degree reckless homicide in Madeline’s March 2008 death at the family’s rural Weston home.

Defense attorney Gene Linehan says the Neumanns are good Christians who tried to save their daughter and didn’t know she was that ill.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Witness says Wis. mother thought illness was sin


Posted on 20th May 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 5/19/2009 11:39 PM

Associated Press Writer

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — A mother accused of rejecting medical treatment and relying on prayer as her 11-year-old daughter died of untreated diabetes believed people got sick because they sinned, a former friend said Tuesday at the woman’s homicide trial.

Althea Wormgoor and her husband described praying with Leilani Neumann and her family in Madeline Neumann’s last hours, a scene that turned to chaos and tearful pleas to heaven when the girl stopped breathing.

Leilani Neumann also attributed sickness to demons, Wormgoor testified. She said that when one of her sons got sick, Neumann thought his vomiting was to rid his body of demons.

“That was a little much,” Wormgoor testified.

Neumann, 41, has been charged with second-degree reckless homicide in Madeline’s March 23, 2008, death at the family’s rural Weston home.

Prosecutors contend a reasonable parent would have known something was gravely wrong with Madeline, who had become so weak she couldn’t walk or talk. They say Neumann recklessly killed her daughter by praying instead of rushing her to a doctor.

The mother has said the family believes in the Bible, which says healing comes from God. The defense has said Neumann and her husband, who is awaiting trial, didn’t know how sick their daughter was until it was too late.

Wormgoor told the jury that Neumann didn’t believe in doctors or medicine.

“Basically, you pray and do nothing but pray,” she said. Wormgoor added, however, that Neumann once asked her for an aspirin to treat a headache.

Wormgoor, who has four children, testified that her family moved from California to Wisconsin in January 2008 to start a second coffee business with the Neumanns and participate in their weekly Bible studies. The Neumanns also had lived in California, and the families had known each other for years.

But Wormgoor said that by March 2008, she and her husband had realized they disagreed with the Neumanns about the business and faith healing.

Wormgoor said she would not have let one of her daughters get as sick as Madeline without getting medical help.

Wormgoor said she and her family went to the Neumanns’ home the day Madeline died. Leilani Neumann had urged them to come, saying Madeline was on the floor, not talking, eating or drinking, she said.

The Wormgoors prayed with the Neumanns. Leilani Neumann raised her hands in the air, calling her daughter’s illness a test of faith and a chance for God to show his power, Wormgoor said.

“‘Oh Lord, you can heal diabetes. You can heal cancer,'” Wormgoor said Neumann prayed. “‘I am praying that God is going to bring her back from this and make her 10 times better.'”

After about five minutes of prayer, Leilani Neumann indicated her daughter appeared better than the previous night, her breathing stronger, Wormgoor said.

Suddenly, Madeline’s mouth “twitched,” she said.

“To me, it looked like she was gasping for air,” Wormgoor said. “It was a twitch that scared me. You are telling me, is she getting better? But right then I am not seeing it. I panicked.”

Wormgoor rushed to call 911, but her husband got to a phone first and made the call.

Randall Wormgoor testified that he had urged Neumann’s husband, Dale, to take Madeline to a hospital.

“I said, ‘Dale, if that was my daughter, I would be taking her to a doctor,” Randall Wormgoor said. “He said at some point, ‘Don’t you think it has crossed my mind.'”

Randall Wormgoor said he tried to reason with Dale Neumann, saying God worked through doctors just as the Neumanns worked through their coffee business to try to do their ministry. But then chaos broke out as word spread that Madeline was not breathing.

As the girl was being rushed to an ambulance, the mother remarked that all she needed was fluids, attendant Jason Russ testified.

Dr. Ivan Sador, a diabetes expert at Marshfield Clinic who examined medical records and police reports, said Madeline would have had high blood sugar levels for two months and organ damage three or four days before she died.

“Absolutely noticeable” symptoms of serious trouble became evident 24 hours before she died, and the girl became “very, very uncomfortable,” the doctor said.

Still, Madeline’s life could have been saved “very late into the day of her death” with the proper treatment, the doctor said.

If convicted, Leilani Neumann faces up to 25 years in prison. Dale Neumann also has been charged with second-degree reckless homicide. His trial is set for July.

Testimony in Leilani Neumann’s trial was to resume Wednesday.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Husband of slain Wis. woman vindicated, angry


Posted on 27th March 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 3/27/2009

Associated Press Writer

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) — Lane McIntyre’s world stopped in March 1980.

McIntyre, then 23, came home from his third-shift job to the one-bedroom apartment in Columbus he shared with his 18-year-old wife, Marilyn. He’d saved her from an abusive foster father and married her when she was 17.

“I’ve never felt that strong of love since. It was pure,” he said Thursday. “Marilyn was a living angel.”

But his angel was dead. A knife stuck out of her chest. Her skull had been fractured. Her neck was bruised from being strangled. A coroner later reported “evidence of traumatic sexual contact.”

Their 3-month-old son, Christopher, lay sleeping, untouched, in his crib. Lane McIntyre managed to call his mother, who called police. As five officers pushed past him into the apartment, he remembered, “my brain didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.”

Since that day, McIntyre watched his life crumble. Two more marriages dissolved. His son, now 29, doesn’t speak to him. Through it all, the murder hung over him like a shadow.

“You’re darn right I’m angry,” he said.

On Tuesday, detectives acting on new DNA evidence arrested McIntyre’s longtime friend Curtis Forbes in connection with Marilyn McIntyre’s death.

Forbes, 51, of Randolph, remains in the Columbia County Jail. District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said charges could come on Monday but that she hasn’t decided what specific counts to file.

Authorities typically can hold a person for only 48 hours without an initial court appearance, but Kohlwey said a judge has granted the jail permission to hold Forbes beyond that.

Kohlwey said Thursday that Forbes hadn’t retained a lawyer yet. The Baraboo public defender’s office, which handles Columbia County cases, said Forbes hadn’t asked for representation. Public defender Mark Gumz said he hasn’t been allowed to see Forbes.

For Lane McIntyre, now 52, the arrest has generated a mix of vindication and anger. He now lives in Beaver Dam, a city of 15,000 about 40 miles northeast of Madison and a dozen miles from Columbus, where Marilyn McIntyre was killed.

Sitting on the porch of his apartment Thursday, he recounted meeting Marilyn when she was 16.

He said she had bounced from foster home to foster home, but she still cared about other people. He remembered collecting donations for UNICEF with her one Halloween and how she wouldn’t let him stop, even when he grew tired.

He said he helped her flee from an abusive foster father, and that was when she decided to marry him.

He’s known Forbes since grade school. They were mortal enemies, he said, always getting into fights until they finally became friends in high school.

But Forbes abused his girlfriend, McIntyre said, and the girlfriend turned to Marilyn McIntyre for help.

The girlfriend left Forbes a week before the killing, he said. He theorized that Forbes stopped at the McIntyre apartment looking for the girlfriend. According to court documents, Lane McIntyre told investigators the day after the murder that Forbes should be their prime suspect.

But the investigation went nowhere. Meanwhile, Lane McIntyre said, people talked about him, wondered if he did it.

His son told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2008 that stories about his father being involved in his mother’s death were a big factor in their estrangement. No phone listing for Christopher McIntyre could be found Thursday.

In 2007, the state crime lab matched DNA from the McIntyre apartment to hair samples Forbes gave police in 1980. The body was exhumed in March 2008 for collection of more evidence.

This past February detectives interviewed an informant, unnamed so far in court documents, who said he witnessed a conversation between Forbes and Forbes’ son around 2002. Forbes began talking about how he took a wife’s friend home from a bar and she didn’t breathe anymore that night.

Now Lane McIntyre, bitter and angry, is looking for payback from those who thought he killed his wife. He wants to write a book about the murder and “the way people are in a small town.”

He chose to stay in Wisconsin because an innocent man doesn’t run, he said. If the book sells, though, he hopes to retire someplace far away.

“I want to go where nobody knows me, where I don’t have to defend myself, and live the rest of my days in peace,” he said. “I have a right to be happy. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Michigan man pleads no contest to killing 3 teens


Posted on 6th March 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 3/6/2009

Associated Press Writer

MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) — A man faces life in prison after he pleaded no contest Thursday to gunning down three youths and trying to kill six others in a river ambush near the Wisconsin-Michigan state line last summer.

Scott J. Johnson, 38, of Kingsford, Mich., withdrew his not guilty pleas earlier Thursday and pleaded no contest to 10 felonies. Marinette County Circuit Judge Tim Duket convicted him of three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, six counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and one count of second-degree sexual assault.

Johnson’s plea spares him a jury trial that was set to start March 16. Duket told Johnson that he could face a maximum of three life terms plus 445 years. The judge will decide at a May 21 hearing whether Johnson will be eligible for parole.

Prosecutor Gary Freyberg said he had no doubt Johnson would have been found guilty at a trial.

“We are delighted that the victims don’t have to go through the trauma of a trial,” Freyberg said. “They have suffered tremendously.”

Johnson’s lawyer, public defender Shannon Viel, said it was Johnson’s decision to change his plea and that there were no plea negotiations Thursday.

“He understands his situation,” Viel said. “He is not hiding anything. He is not in any denial.”

Johnson dropped an insanity plea in January, and reports filed by court-appointed psychologists who examined him in the fall have not been released.

Prosecutors said Johnson, an unemployed Army veteran and divorced father of two, fired at a group of youths at a popular swimming spot along the Menominee River in July, killing Tiffany Pohlson, 17, of Vulcan, Mich.; Anthony Spigarelli, 18, and Bryan Mort, 19, both of Iron Mountain, Mich.

Daniel Louis Gordon, 21, of Kingsford, Mich., also suffered a superficial back wound from shrapnel.

Johnson, wearing camouflage, hid in the woods overnight and turned himself in the next day.

The criminal complaint said Johnson thought about committing a random shooting for four or five years. He told investigators he stashed weapons in the woods for at least a year in preparation.

Johnson also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman near the river the day before the shooting. He told investigators he knew police would be looking for him after the assault and that he plotted to kill as many officers as he could, then wound up shooting the youths when four of them started climbing toward where he was hiding, the complaint said.

His mother, Judy Johnson, has described her son as despondent since his wife left him in 2001 and took their children to Ohio. Johnson served five years in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1994, she said.

David Mort, the father of a victim, said he was relieved there would be no trial. His son was killed near a train bridge between state lines, and he has pushed for Johnson to be tried in federal court in Michigan, where a death penalty would be possible.

Viel and prosecutors declined to comment on the possibility of federal charges, referring questions to Michigan prosecutors. After-hours messages left at U.S. attorney’s offices in Lansing, Mich., and Marquette, Mich, were not immediately returned Thursday.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Drifter gets 55 years in Wis. torture-slay case


Posted on 11th November 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 11/11/2008

PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) _ A member of a gang of drifters was sentenced Monday to 55 years in prison for helping to kill another woman in the group and torturing the woman’s 11-year-old son.

Candice L. Clark, 24, pleaded no contest to being party to second-degree reckless homicide and guilty to charges including child abuse. She was also sentenced to 45 years of extended supervision and must serve about 47 years before being eligible to apply for early release.

Clark’s attorney did not return a message seeking comment.

Court records list multiple spellings for the defendant’s names, with her first name spelled Candice and Candace and her last name Clark and Clarke.

She was among three drifters charged in the death of 36-year-old Tammie Garlin, whose body was found buried last year behind a Portage home. Garlin’s then-11-year-old son also was found naked, severely beaten and burned in a locked closet.

Investigators believe the gang crisscrossed the country, running financial scams and stealing identities to support themselves.

Police found the group in Portage in June 2007 while looking for Clark’s 2-year-old daughter, whom she had kidnapped from foster parents in Florida.

They found the kidnapped girl there, along with Garlin’s son who was locked in a closet streaked with blood. Garlin’s body was found buried in a shallow backyard grave.

According to a criminal complaint, the boy told detectives the gang had burned him with hot water and whipped him with an extension cord as punishment. Doctors had to amputate several of his fingertips and three of his badly burned toes.

The case spurred an outpouring of sympathy for the boy and forced the Florida Department of Children and Families to assign specific workers to track missing children.

Two other group members were charged in the torture and killing.

Michaela Clerc, 22, is serving 37 years in prison.

Michael Sisk, 26, was found guilty in August of second-degree reckless homicide. He also pleaded guilty or no contest to nine other charges. His sentencing date has not been determined.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.