File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son, Ezekiel, when the family lived in southwestern Alberta in March 2012.

Medical examiner tells couple’s trial that child died of bacterial meningitis

LETHBRIDGE — A medical examiner who did the autopsy on a 19-month-old toddler whose parents are on trial in his death says there’s no question the boy died of bacterial meningitis.

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son, Ezekiel, when the family lived in southwestern Alberta in March 2012.

The pathologist said his autopsy on March 19 of that year concluded the boy died of bacterial meningitis and a lung infection.

“That was very clear right from the beginning why this child died. There was no confusion about why he died,” Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo told the judge hearing the case in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench.

“It was obvious it was bacterial meningitis and empyema. There was no trauma or anything that is suspicious.”

Adeagbo was a medical examiner in Calgary before leaving for a new job in Indiana a year ago. He testified via video link from Terre Haute.

Although Adeagbo conducted his autopsy on Ezekiel in March, the doctor’s final report wasn’t completed until the end of October that year.

He said it was important that he take the proper amount of time to give a full explanation in the report. That meant sending samples of the toddler’s cerebral spinal fluid and a biopsy of his right lung, which had an infectious mass, to a microbiologist.

“It took a while,” he acknowledged Monday.

The pathologist said he also sent his report for a peer review, which was normal in Alberta at the time of the boy’s death.

“It was a standard thing … for every suspected pediatric homicide no matter what the age,” he told the court.

“It took some time to finish the explanation even though it was very clear.”

The pathologist’s comments haven’t been admitted into evidence as the defence is questioning him in a voir dire held to determine whether he will be allowed to testify as an expert witness.

Lawyer Shawn Buckley, representing Collet Stephan, has said there is an ”issue of bias” with Adeagbo, but the lawyer’s arguments haven’t been heard yet.

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