‘He was withering:’ Trial begins for Calgary couple charged in son’s 2013 death

CALGARY — A jury trial for a Calgary couple charged in the death of their 14-month-old son has heard the boy never saw a doctor his entire life before he died in 2013.

Jeromie and Jennifer Clark pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life for their son John.

Jennifer Clark wore a hat which covered part of her face and was barely audible as she stated her plea.

Police began investigating after the boy was brought to hospital by his parents on Nov. 28, 2013.

The medical examiner found that John died the following day from a staph infection complicated by malnutrition.

Prosecutor Shane Parker told the jury John was on death’s doorstep when he was taken to hospital — the first time he had ever been examined by a doctor.

“John was in obvious medical distress. He was withering,” he said in his opening statement Monday.

“Those who had a duty to help John showed a wanton disregard.”

David Stephan, whose 19-month-old son Ezekiel died from meningitis in 2012, was in the public gallery with a notebook.

He and his wife, Collet, were found guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life. Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard evidence that they treated the boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doctor. The Stephans eventually called 911 but the toddler died in hospital.

The Supreme Court ordered a new trial for the couple in May, saying the original trial judge did not properly instruct jurors on what would be a marked departure from reasonable behaviour in a way they could understand.

A 2016 Supreme Court ruling set a 30-month limit on how long it should take a case to make its way through Superior court, but last year the Clarks waived their charter rights to a trial within a reasonable time.

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