David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court on March 10, 2016 in Lethbridge, Alta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter)

Accused mother cries at Alberta trial over boy who died of meningitis

Parents charged with failing to provide necessaries of life for their son who died in 2012

The mother of a toddler who died of bacterial meningitis broke down several times Tuesday as she testified at her trial that she is still haunted by her boy’s death.

Collet Stephan told court that she still counts Ezekiel, who was 19 months old when he died, among her current living children.

“He’s my son,” she said tearfully. “My role as a stay-at-home mom is to care for my children. It’s my purpose. It’s why I was put on Earth.”

Stephan and her husband, David, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

The Crown argues the Stephans should have sought medical treatment for the boy sooner. The couple opted to treat him with alternative medicines.

A jury convicted the couple in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a second trial. It is being heard by a judge without a jury and David Stephan is acting as his own lawyer.

Collet Stephan testified that she has vivid memories of some aspects of Ezekiel’s death but has blocked out others.

“It was an extremely traumatic time which no parent should have to go through,” she said.

Ezekiel first stopped breathing while she was holding him and listening to him inhale irregularly.

“I had patted him on the back and he started breathing again. I carried him to the bedroom and when I laid him on the bed he stopped breathing again.”

She said she pinched his nose and blew into his mouth and he coughed up mucus and fluid and seemed to improve.

The Stephans called 911 while driving the boy to hospital.

The couple have testified that they originally thought Ezekiel had croup and that they treated him with natural remedies. They saw no reason to take him to hospital despite his having a fever and lacking energy.

Collet Stephan said she did research on both viral and bacterial meningitis.

“In my mind, I’m thinking out of the two he would be closer to viral meningitis than he was the bacterial,” she said.

After discussing the matter with her husband, they decided not to take Ezekiel to the hospital right away.

“I didn’t see any health concerns warranting him to see the doctor. If he starts to exhibit symptoms, we should take him in.”

David Stephan testified they suspected Ezekiel may have contracted viral meningitis. It is less serious and usually clears up on its own, but the bacterial form can be fatal if not treated quickly with antibiotics.

“I recall distinctly that bacterial meningitis wasn’t on the radar,” he told Crown prosecutor Britta Kristensen during her cross-examination. “If we thought he had a fatal infection, we would have been to the doctor right away.”

He testified that his wife did call a friend at one point who was a nurse and a midwife. The friend mentioned the possibility Ezekiel might have meningitis but she wasn’t sure.

Stephan told court that he was “100 per cent convinced” that Ezekiel had recovered, until he noticed the child had an odd breathing pattern.

He said the couple continued to treat him with natural remedies, even after the toddler was declared brain dead at the children’s hospital in Calgary.

“We were given no hope whatsoever. We weren’t willing to let go,” he said. “We would cling onto anything.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

Cullen gets $89,000 in post-MP severance

At 55, the former MP will also be eligible for an $82,000 per annum pension

Carol Young, an artist who fought for timely cancer treatment in Abbotsford, dies before first solo show

B.C. Haida artist’s exhibit to open Saturday at downtown Seattle gallery

PHOTOS: Masset Remembers

Veterans, the Legion, the RCMP and the town came out to honour all those who have bravely served

Freezing rain warning issued for central Interior Remembrance Day

Highway alerts in place for Begbie Summitt and Pine Pass

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

‘It’s been 12 years’: Father of murdered B.C. real estate agent pleads for mayor’s help

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 in Saanich. Her case is unsolved.

B.C. woman sends fight to reduce preventable medical errors to Victoria

Teri McGrath and South Okanagan senior’s centre members presented 150 signature petition to local MLA

Most Read