CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has dismissed challenges from a Calgary couple found guilty of killing their teenage son, who died in 2013 of complications from untreated diabetes and starvation.
Emil and Rodica Radita were convicted of first-degree murder two years ago in the death of 15-year-old Alex. Court heard the boy weighed 37 pounds and had more than 40 bedsores when he died.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Karen Horner found the boy’s murder was planned and deliberate and sentenced the Raditas to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. They filed separate notices of appeal the following month.
In her verdict, Horner said the couple was in gross denial of Alex’s disease and the boy had not received proper care for years, even though his parents knew how to look after him.
Three Court of Appeal judges agreed in their decision that the crime was first-degree murder because it happened in tandem with a crime of domination — unlawful confinement.
“While there was no evidence that the appellants put restraints on Alex, they had absolute control over what Alex ate, who he saw, whether he attended school and what, if any, medical care he received. Alex was extremely vulnerable,” the judges wrote in the ruling released Thursday.
“The appellants deprived him of education, deprived him of medical treatment, and deprived him of interactions with people who would recognize his plight. The father went so far as to tell his pastor that Alex was suffering from cancer. The appellants exercised complete control over him.”
The Appeal court judges also said Horner did not misinterpret evidence related to how the boy died.
“Instead of considering only the bacterial sepsis, the trial judge properly considered that it was starvation that lead to the sepsis. The uncontested medical evidence was that sepsis, neglect and starvation go hand-in-hand,” they wrote.
The judges cited a video of Alex on his 15th birthday.
“It shows a bedridden, extremely emaciated and weak boy who struggles to open his cards and gifts. Sores are visible on his nose and forehead. It was a chronic, ongoing process that led to a premature and preventable death.”
Rodica Radita had argued in the appeal that the judge showed bias by crying during the trial.
“I am not guilty of murdering my son, and the judge finding that I am shows that she did not look at all of the evidence,” she said in a handwritten note when she filed her appeal.
The appeal decision said the trial judge was not slanted against the Raditas.