Judge re­jects plea for $4M in fund­ing

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A judge on Fri­day re­fused re­quests from an Al­berta cou­ple charged in the menin­gi­tis death of their son to have their le­gal fees cov­ered and a re­trial de­layed.David and Col­let Stephan wanted $4 mil­lion to pay for past and fu­ture le­gal bills.“You don’t have any re­sources. That’s what you’re telling me and you’re not get­ting any here,” Jus­tice John Rooke told David Stephan, who was act­ing on be­half of him­self and his wife in a Cal­gary court­room.“The ap­pli­ca­tion is dis­missed and … I am not mak­ing any find­ings on the mer­its,” Rooke said.In 2016, the Stephans were found guilty for fail­ing to pro­vide the nec­es­saries of life to their 19-mon­thold son Ezekiel. The con­vic­tion was over­turned by the Supreme Court of Canada and a new trial is sched­uled for June.The cou­ple’s ap­pli­ca­tion for cash asked that they be granted $1 mil­lion to cover their past le­gal ex­penses and that an­other $3 mil­lion be placed in trust for any fu­ture de­fence fees.The Stephans say they have liq­ui­dated their as­sets, are in debt to their pre­vi­ous lawyer and don’t have enough money to ob­tain the nec­es­sary as­sis­tance to re­ceive a fair trial.Rooke said the Stephans would be bet­ter off tak­ing their re­quest for le­gal fees to a civil court.“You’re in the wrong pro­ce­dure and the wrong place. That’s civil court. An­other judge … an­other day,” Rooke said.Stephan has al­leged col­lu­sion be­tween the Crown and po­lice in the first trial and has also ac­cused some wit­nesses of per­jur­ing them­selves.He said out­side court he and his wife wanted a de­lay as well as the cash for lawyers to guar­an­tee a fair trial.“We were hop­ing for a stay of pro­ceed­ings un­til we got le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It’s kind of bit­ter­sweet. It would sure be nice to have this case turfed like it should be,” Stephan said.“As heart-wrench­ing as it’s go­ing to be for my­self and my wife, it would sure be nice to have the truth come out.”Rooke noted that the Stephans had not filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for le­gal aid.“You don’t have to jus­tify why you’re not ap­ply­ing for it. Some peo­ple may say you’re a fool for not do­ing it, but that’s your busi­ness. You have the right to rep­re­sent your­self,” the jus­tice said.Stephan said one or even two lawyers ap­pointed by le­gal aid wouldn’t be suf­fi­cient. He said civil ac­tion isn’t pos­si­ble now ei­ther.“If we had the money we would have al­ready been be­fore the civil courts to have all of these facts tried,” he said.At this point, he said, they might have to con­tinue to rep­re­sent them­selves.The orig­i­nal trial in Leth­bridge heard ev­i­dence that the cou­ple treated the boy with nat­u­ral reme­dies and smooth­ies made of gar­lic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doc­tor. He had been ill for sev­eral days and at one point be­came so stiff he couldn’t sit in his car seat.Once the boy stopped breath­ing, the Stephans called 911 but he died in hos­pi­tal in Cal­gary in 2012.The Stephans now live in Grande Prairie.

David and Col­let Stephan were charged in the 2016 menin­gi­tis death of their son, 19-month Ezekiel. They wanted money to cover le­gal fees.

David Stephan

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