Alberta parents convicted in toddler’s meningitis death

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Two Alberta parents accused of letting their toddler die of bacterial meningitis have been convicted of failing to provide him with the necessaries of life.

David Stephan, 32, and Collet Stephan, 36, were charged under Section 215 of the Criminal Code almost a year after their nearly 19-month-old son Ezekiel died in March 2012.

There was a gasp in the courtroom as the decision from the four-man, eight-woman jury came down in a Lethbridge courtroom on Tuesday afternoon. People in the courtroom’s gallery started to cry and Collet Stephan broke out sobbing uncontrollably while her husband and others rubbed her back.

The Stephans will not be held in custody at this time, but will have to return to court on June 13 when the date for sentencing will be set.

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

The Crown asked that the Stephans be forced to surrender their passports while free, but the judge refused the request.

Natural treatments

The couple — who lived on an acreage in Cardston County, in the southwestern corner of Alberta at the time — testified they believed Ezekiel had croup or flu.

They treated him for 2½ weeks with remedies that included hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish and a product from a naturopathic doctor aimed at boosting his immune system.

He eventually stopped breathing, prompting the couple to call 911.

Ezekiel was rushed to the hospital in Cardston before being taken to the emergency room in Lethbridge and later flown to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and neurological dysfunction, according to the official death report by Dr. Jonathan Gamble.

Ezekiel was declared brain dead on March 18 and he was taken off life-support.

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A doctor’s official death report said Ezekiel had bacterial meningitis. (Stephan family)

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Alberta parents convicted in toddler’s meningitis death

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