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

Flush truck partnership updated

Agreement between Bashaw and two other municipalities renewed

Bashaw Rebels basketball performs well in tournaments

Senior girls win in Alix, boys strong at home despite losses

Bashaw water rate rising 31 cents

Cost set at $3.47 as town deals with unaccounted for water

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Kiya Bruno sings at Hockey Day in Canada

Bruno will also be a keynote speaker at GoGreen Summit in Bali in March

Falun Outdoor Classic hits the rink Feb. 22

Intense CACA action featuring Augustana Vikings, SAIT Trojans

Colour, choreography, and chorus: students will have you dancing to Mamma Mia!

Six shows at the Performing Arts Centre: Feb. 27th-29th, March 5th-7th

AFN national chief calls for calm on Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Most Read