David Stephan and his wife, Collet, have filed an application to have the charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life dismissed. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta couple wants cash and charges dropped in meningitis death of their son

CALGARY — An Alberta couple facing a second trial in the meningitis death of their son is expected to argue today that all charges should be dropped and that the court award them millions to cover their legal bills.

A jury found David Stephan and his wife, Collet, guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel.

Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard evidence that they treated the boy with natural remedies and smoothies made with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doctor. Ezekiel 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 eventually called 911 but he died in hospital in Calgary in 2012.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial in a ruling that said the original judge did not properly instruct jurors.

The couple has filed an application to have the charges against them dismissed. They are also asking 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.

David Stephan has already told court that the applications are the result of recently released disclosure evidence that suggests 719 pages of defence material was released to the Crown by the RCMP.

The Stephans, who now live in Grande Prairie, Alta., are expected to make their arguments before Calgary Justice Beth Hughes via a video link.

The new trial is scheduled to begin June 3.

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