David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court on March 10, 2016 in Lethbridge, Alta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter)

David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court on March 10, 2016 in Lethbridge, Alta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter)

Accused mother cries at Alberta trial over boy who died of meningitis

Parents charged with failing to provide necessaries of life for their son who died in 2012

The mother of a toddler who died of bacterial meningitis broke down several times Tuesday as she testified at her trial that she is still haunted by her boy’s death.

Collet Stephan told court that she still counts Ezekiel, who was 19 months old when he died, among her current living children.

“He’s my son,” she said tearfully. “My role as a stay-at-home mom is to care for my children. It’s my purpose. It’s why I was put on Earth.”

Stephan and her husband, David, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

The Crown argues the Stephans should have sought medical treatment for the boy sooner. The couple opted to treat him with alternative medicines.

A jury convicted the couple in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a second trial. It is being heard by a judge without a jury and David Stephan is acting as his own lawyer.

Collet Stephan testified that she has vivid memories of some aspects of Ezekiel’s death but has blocked out others.

“It was an extremely traumatic time which no parent should have to go through,” she said.

Ezekiel first stopped breathing while she was holding him and listening to him inhale irregularly.

“I had patted him on the back and he started breathing again. I carried him to the bedroom and when I laid him on the bed he stopped breathing again.”

She said she pinched his nose and blew into his mouth and he coughed up mucus and fluid and seemed to improve.

The Stephans called 911 while driving the boy to hospital.

The couple have testified that they originally thought Ezekiel had croup and that they treated him with natural remedies. They saw no reason to take him to hospital despite his having a fever and lacking energy.

Collet Stephan said she did research on both viral and bacterial meningitis.

“In my mind, I’m thinking out of the two he would be closer to viral meningitis than he was the bacterial,” she said.

After discussing the matter with her husband, they decided not to take Ezekiel to the hospital right away.

“I didn’t see any health concerns warranting him to see the doctor. If he starts to exhibit symptoms, we should take him in.”

David Stephan testified they suspected Ezekiel may have contracted viral meningitis. It is less serious and usually clears up on its own, but the bacterial form can be fatal if not treated quickly with antibiotics.

“I recall distinctly that bacterial meningitis wasn’t on the radar,” he told Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen during her cross-examination. “If we thought he had a fatal infection, we would have been to the doctor right away.”

He testified that his wife did call a friend at one point who was a nurse and a midwife. The friend mentioned the possibility Ezekiel might have meningitis but she wasn’t sure.

Stephan told court that he was “100 per cent convinced” that Ezekiel had recovered, until he noticed the child had an odd breathing pattern.

He said the couple continued to treat him with natural remedies, even after the toddler was declared brain dead at the children’s hospital in Calgary.

“We were given no hope whatsoever. We weren’t willing to let go,” he said. “We would cling onto anything.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
Town of Ponoka makes changes to monthly tax payment plan

Ponoka town council has approved changes to the town’s monthly tax payment… Continue reading

Katherine Swampy
Maskwacis chiefs are opposed to RAPID Response

Alberta Treaty 6 First Nations say they were not properly consulted

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read