An appeal hearing will go ahead this spring for a former southern Alberta couple, who were found not guilty in their second trial in relation to their son’s death.
In September 2019, David and Collet Stephan were found not guilty in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench on a charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life. Their son, Ezekial, died in 2012.
The two were originally found guilty by a Lethbridge jury for the same charge in their first trial in 2016. David was sentenced to four months in jail, while Collet was ordered to serve three months of house arrest. The Supreme Court of Canada overturned that conviction in 2018, and ordered a new trial.
At the end of last year’s lengthy re-trial, Justice Terry Clackson concluded from the testimony of a defence expert that the 19-month old did not die from bacterial meningitis, as the original medical examiner had reported. Instead, the boy died due to a lack of oxygen when he stopped breathing and an ambulance was not properly equipped to intubate him.
David and Collet testified that they thought Ezekial had croup and they were using herbal remedies to treat the illness.
The Alberta Crown filed a notice of appeal in October 2019 following the acquittal.
There are at least four grounds for appeal, alleging that Justice Clackson made a number of errors. One of those errors includes when he said the Crown had to prove that taking the toddler to a doctor would have saved his life. The appeal also notes that the justice was biased against the medical examiner who completed Ezekial’s autopsy, Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, when he wrote in his verdict that the doctor was hard to understand and spoke with an accent.
The Stephan’s appeal hearing has been scheduled for June 11 in Calgary.