Calgary couple guilty in son’s staph death appeal convictions, sentences

CALGARY — A Calgary couple found guilty in the death of their 14-month-old son are appealing their convictions and sentences.

Jennifer Clark and her husband Jeromie Clark were sentenced in June to 32 months in prison for criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life.

The trial heard that their son, John, didn’t see a doctor until the day before he died in November 2013 and a forensic pathologist testified the boy was malnourished and died from a staph infection.

Jennifer Clark’s lengthy handwritten notice of appeal says defence lawyers did not bring up inconsistencies in Crown medical expert testimony.

It also says the jury heard overwhelming, conflicting evidence and did not have the necessary medical knowledge to know whether doctors were explaining proper procedures.

During the trial, the Clarks’ lawyers argued doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital were to blame for John’s death because they raised his sodium levels too aggressively.

“The medical doctors who are suspected of medical malpractice/negligence (massive sodium overcorrection, massive fluid overcorrection) were given expert witness status at trial,” Jennifer Clark wrote in the notice filed Tuesday.

She said the Crown had six experts while the defence could only afford one, former Alberta chief medical examiner Anny Sauvageau, who now works as a consultant.

“The numbers could have biased the jury,” Clark wrote.

In his sentencing decision, Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Jeffrey said the Clarks posed no threat to society, but prison time was needed to set an example for other parents who might delay getting medical care for their children.

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