LETHBRIDGE — A jury at the trial of a southern Alberta couple has been hearing how the parents gave their ill toddler homeopathic medicine in an attempt to heal him of meningitis.
David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.
Crown prosecutor Clayton Giles alleges the couple, who run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support out of Raymond didn’t do enough to get the boy medical care.
The trial in Lethbridge has been told that the couple first thought the boy had croup and treated him with natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.
At times his health seemed to improve, but his condition worsened.
Terrie Meynders, a family friend and registered nurse, testified that Collet Stephan called to ask her to look at Ezekiel.
“It did not jump out at me that he was that seriously ill,” said Meynders. But she did suggest that his illness could be internal, possibly viral meningitis.
“I think you should take him to see a doctor,” Meynders said she told the mother.
Meynders testified that she knew the Stephans were health conscious and she believed they would be better able to treat Ezekiel once they knew what was wrong with him.
Court heard the couple chose instead to take the boy to a naturopath.
During an recorded interview on March 15, 2012, Collet Stephan told RCMP that Ezekiel’s body was too stiff to get him into his car seat. The couple put a mattress in the back of their vehicle to take him to the naturopath.
David Stephan told an officer during his interview that he and his wife had come up with a “game plan” to give Ezekiel additional natural remedies for meningitis and, if the treatment didn’t help, they would take him to a hospital.
The couple said their son seemed to respond, was more relaxed and alert. He had a couple of naps after the family returned home from the naturopath and slept better than he had in a long time.
Then his condition grew worse.
“All of a sudden his breathing wasn’t normal,” his mother told RCMP.
The Stephans called 911 and performed CPR on the toddler as they drove to meet an ambulance from a nearby community. The boy stopped breathing several times.
“He was blue by the time we met up with the ambulance,” Collet Stephan told a Mountie.
The boy was taken to Lethbridge, then airlifted to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. After five days, doctors took him off life support.