Cou­ple failed son, court told

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

An Al­berta pros­e­cu­tor says a cou­ple that failed to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion for their son who later died of bac­te­rial menin­gi­tis were aware that he was suf­fer­ing from a form of the deadly in­fec­tion.

David Stephan and his wife, Col­let, are charged with fail­ing to pro­vide the nec­es­saries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel in 2012.

The Stephans have tes­ti­fied that they orig­i­nally thought Ezekiel had croup, an up­per air­way in­fec­tion, and that they treated him with nat­u­ral reme­dies, in­clud­ing a tinc­ture of gar­lic, onion and horse­rad­ish added to a smoothie.

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.

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

“It’s the Stephans fail­ure to re­spond to what I would say to in­creas­ingly alarm­ing in­for­ma­tion or feed­back from their child dur­ing that pe­riod of time,” said Crown pros­e­cu­tor Britta Kris­tensen in her clos­ing ar­gu­ment Thurs­day. “Both par­ents knew the child had menin­gi­tis.”

Kris­tensen said by do­ing so the Stephans en­dan­gered Ezekiel’s life.

“Know­ing that he had menin­gi­tis – there were forms of it that are fa­tal and fast act­ing – it was in­cum­bent on them to see a doc­tor and a doc­tor’s su­per­vi­sion,” she said. “There was no de­ci­sion to take him to a physi­cian notwithsta­nding his de­clin­ing health over the next two days.”

Stephan, who is rep­re­sent­ing him­self, said in his fi­nal ar­gu­ment that ev­i­dence sug­gests a fail­ure by med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to prop­erly in­tu­bate his son was the real rea­son Ezekiel died.

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

“There was a re­quest made for equip­ment for ap­prox­i­mately one year. Those re­quests were never hon­oured. The am­bu­lances were never equipped,” said Stephan. “Within a week of Ezekiel’s pass­ing... mag­i­cally the am­bu­lances are re­stocked. I think these are grounds for mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion and a coverup. I’m no ex­pert in law but I think that would con­sti­tute a case of crim­i­nal neg­li­gence re­sult­ing in death.”

Stephan told the judge he feels there were el­e­ments of prej­u­dice against him and his wife be­cause they were sov­er­eign cit­i­zens – peo­ple who be­lieve in com­mon law and don’t feel they are re­spon­si­ble to any gov­ern­ment.

“It is my po­si­tion that the Crown has not proven its case,” said Stephan. “I re­spect­fully ask that it be a not guilty ver­dict.”

It is the sec­ond trial for the Stephans. The Supreme Court of Canada over­turned their orig­i­nal con­vic­tion.

Jus­tice Terry Clack­son said he would ren­der his ver­dict on Sept. 19.

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