David and Collette Stephan leave the courthouse in Lethbridge on Tuesday surrounded by family and supporters after being found guilty in failing to provide the necessaries of life in the death of their 19-month-old Ezekiel 2012.

Jury convicts couple in son’s death

The mother of a toddler who died of meningitis began weeping uncontrollably Tuesday after a jury found her and her husband guilty of failing to provide their ill son with the necessaries of life.

LETHBRIDGE — The mother of a toddler who died of meningitis began weeping uncontrollably Tuesday after a jury found her and her husband guilty of failing to provide their ill son with the necessaries of life.

David and Collet Stephan were charged after 19-month-old Ezekiel died in March 2012.

The couple testified at their trial in Lethbridge that they believed their son had croup or flu, so they treated him for 2 1/2 weeks with remedies that included smoothies with hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish.

He eventually stopped breathing and died after being rushed to hospital.

The four-man, eight-woman jury had been deliberating since Monday afternoon. There was a gasp in the courtroom as the decision from the jurors came down.

The defence argued the couple were loving, responsible parents who simply didn’t realize how sick the little boy was.

The Crown said the Stephans didn’t do enough to ensure Ezekiel received the medical help he needed. The prosecution noted that the Stephans had been warned by a friend who was a registered nurse that the boy probably had meningitis.

The maximum penalty for failing to provide the necessaries of life is five years in prison.

Justice Rodney Jerke did not set a sentencing date. That’s to be decided at a court appearance on June 13. The Stephans were not taken into custody.

“This case is not yet over, but a big chapter has come to a close,” Jerke said.

He noted that you only had to look at the faces of the jurors to tell “this was a difficult case.”

Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich said the charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life ensures that people who cannot care for themselves receive the minimal standard of care expected by society.

“They definitely, definitely loved their son but as stated in our closing arguments, unfortunately sometimes love just isn’t enough,” Weich said outside court. “Parents still have to follow a standard of care as set by criminal law.”

A Stephan family member swore at the media as she left the courthouse, saying she would not speak to reporters.

The case has drawn international attention, due in part because of the societal divide between those who do and don’t believe in the natural medicine movement.

Court documents entered at the trial said just days before Ezekiel was rushed to hospital his family was giving him fluids through an eyedropper because he wouldn’t eat or drink.

The jury also heard that Collet Stephan researched treatments for viral meningitis online and picked up an echinacea mixture from a naturopath in Lethbridge.

Court was told Ezekiel was too stiff to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress on the way to a naturopath’s office the day before he stopped breathing.

Just Posted

Red Deer residents honour veterans in great numbers

Our soldiers paid the ultimate price to give us peace and freedom.… Continue reading

Canadians to mark Remembrance Day this morning

OTTAWA — Canadians will gather at cenotaphs and monuments across the country… Continue reading

Canada supports genocide case against Myanmar at International Court of Justice

OTTAWA — Canada is supporting a genocide lawsuit against the Myanmar government… Continue reading

Kenney’s plan to advance Alberta’s interest receives mixed reviews

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s how Laura feels about… Continue reading

Alberta’s unemployment numbers up in October

The latest jobs report from Statistics Canada’s pegs Alberta’s seasonally adjusted unemployment… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Pain 101 class — learn to take control of your chronic… Continue reading

Opinion: Kenney plainly explains why Alberta deserves a fairer deal

By David Marsden It had been expected that Premier Jason Kenney would… Continue reading

Sportsnet cuts ties with Don Cherry in aftermath of poppy controversy

TORONTO — Sportsnet has cut ties with “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcaster… Continue reading

A Whole New World: Disney streaming debuts with hit brands

NEW YORK — Disney will sprinkle its pixie dust on the streaming… Continue reading

Safety officials probing records of work on Southwest jets

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines says it will speed up inspections of dozens… Continue reading

Zombie debt will haunt more Canadians as scourge of indebtedness rises: experts

TORONTO — Canadians with old debts beware: a momentary slip or lack… Continue reading

SpaceX launches 60 more mini satellites for global internet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second… Continue reading

Premium Brands down on indirect fallout of China’s swine fever outbreak

VANCOUVER — An outbreak of African swine fever that has decimated hog… Continue reading

Most Read