LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – The jury in the case of an Alberta couple charged in the meningitis death of their toddler son began a second day of deliberations Tuesday.
David Stephan, 32, and Collet Stephan, 35, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to 18-month-old Ezekiel in 2012.
On March 13, 2012, the Stephans made the following frantic calls to 911 after Ezekiel stopped breathing.
Listen: Stephan 911 call
The four-man, eight-woman jury deliberated for about five hours Monday before retiring for the night.
In his charge to the jury, Justice Rodney Jerke told them to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt and not to make their decisions based on “sympathy, prejudice or fear.”
The couple testified they believed that Ezekiel had croup or flu, so they treated him for two-and-a-half weeks with remedies that included hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish.
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He eventually stopped breathing and died a couple of days after being airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.
That was where both Collet and David were interviewed by RCMP.
Collet said Ezekiel started wheezing on a trip to Lethbridge two weeks earlier, so she researched his symptoms. She thought, based on his symptoms, he might have whooping cough or croup.
She described to the RCMP officer all the natural remedies and supplements she gave Ezekiel.
Court permitted the RCMP interviews with both Collet and David Stephan at the hospital be released.
The Stephans asked a friend who was a Registered Nurse to come over to look at Ezekiel.
“She said it does look like he’s showing signs of meningitis,” Collet said in the RCMP interview.
They also spoke to a holistic doctor in Lethbridge. During the interviews, the Stephans said Ezekiel showed signs of improvement until he stopped breathing.
“Everything turned for the worst within a short period of time,” David told the RCMP officer.
David said the window of time between finding out Ezekiel might have had meningitis and meeting the paramedics was so short, they were doing what was best for his condition, not realizing how severe it was.
“If this comes into question whether or not it’s a case of negligence or not, of course I’d say no,” David said. “I would say it’s completely the opposite. We’ve gone above and beyond… nobody in their right mind would put their kid at risk.”
With files from Erik Mikkelsen & Emily Mertz, Global News