David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel who died in March 2012. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta couple charged in toddler son’s death to learn fate from judge

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life

A judge is to rule today whether an Alberta couple who treated their son with herbal remedies rather than seek medical attention should be held responsible in his death.

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel who died in March 2012.

They were found guilty by a jury in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial.

“It feels good after three months of trial, after 6 1/2 years of prosecution and 7 1/2 years of this, to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” David Stephan said last month at the end of closing arguments.

“We could have taken the easy road out a number of times … but we weren’t willing to go that route,” he said.

The medical examiner who did the autopsy said Ezekiel died of bacterial meningitis and there was no sign his brain was deprived of oxygen, but a defence pathologist said he died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Over the course of the trial in Lethbridge, Alta., the Stephans testified that they initially thought Ezekiel had croup, an upper airway infection, and they treated him with natural remedies including a smoothie with garlic, onion and horseradish.

They said he appeared to be recovering at times and they saw no reason to take him to hospital, despite his having a fever and lacking energy.

They called an ambulance when the boy stopped breathing.

A family friend, who is a nurse and midwife, testified that she advised Collet Stephan the day before to get a medical opinion. The friend feared “something more internal like meningitis.”

“It’s the Stephans’ failure to respond to … increasingly alarming information or feedback from their child during that period of time,” Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen said in her closing argument.

“Both parents knew the child had meningitis.”

David Stephan, who represented himself, argued it was a failure by medical professionals to properly intubate his son that led to his death.

Testimony indicated the boy was without oxygen for nearly nine minutes because an ambulance that took him to hospital wasn’t properly stocked with breathing equipment to fit a child.

Stephan said it’s too soon to say what the couple’s next step might be.

“Whether it be guilty or not guilty, there’ll be some assessment either way.”

Justice Terry Clackson is to hand down his decision this afternoon.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Province commits long term to 4-H in Alberta

10-year funding commitment will sustain re-structured 4-H organization

STARS praises Ponoka County as leader in province

Annual update from STARS shows big progress on helicopter campaign

Short bench for tournament host Queens

Rebuiling year sees club wind up seventh

Town selling the airport to Ponoka Flying Club

Agreement is for 25 years with option to buy back

RCMP on hunt for man who has skipped court

Public urged to call 911 if they spot him

VIDEO: Province’s top court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Today’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government

Father and two children, from Southern Alberta, killed in fatal crash in B.C.

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Two goals by Ben King pushes Rebels over Tri-city

7-5 game a high-scoring, runaway according to Rebels forward Chris Douglas

Most Read