CALGARY, AB – The provincial court process has finally ended after nine years for David and Collet Stephan.
One of their lawyers confirmed to The Canadian Press (CP) on Tuesday (June 22) that the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service has stayed the charges against the couple. However, the Crown still has 12 months to pursue those charges again, if it so chooses.
The Stephans, who used to live in southern Alberta, were originally charged in 2013 with failing to provide the necessaries of life after their toddler son, Ezekial, died in 2012 when he became severely ill. The Stephans thought he had croup and tried to treat him with natural remedies, but the little boy died from what medical examiners believed was meningitis.
It was alleged that the Stephans didn’t seek proper medical attention for him soon enough.
A jury in Lethbridge found the Stephans guilty in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada overturned that verdict. The judge in their second trial in 2019 then found them not-guilty.
Once again, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and ordered a third trial, which had not yet been scheduled. The court stated that comments made by Queen’s Bench Justice Terry Clackson in his decision were biased, when Clackson said Nigerian-born medical examiner, Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, spoke with an accent and was difficult to understand.
In a statement to CP, the Crown said, “It has been more than nine years since the child passed away and the available evidence has deteriorated since the previous two trials,” and “a reasonable likelihood of conviction no longer exists.”
David also told CP that he plans to seek re-payment from the provincial courts for some or all of his and his wife’s expenses.
The Stephan’s case is still on-going with the Supreme Court of Canada, though, where they have applied for another appeal.
–with files from The Canadian Press