David and Collet Stephan not guilty in toddler's meningitis death
David and Collet Stephan, the couple charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son, were found not guilty by Justice Terry Clackson Thursday afternoon.
Ezekiel Stephan died in March of 2012 after he stopped breathing at his family’s home. Doctors say he died of bacterial meningitis.
The couple were originally found guilty but the convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada in May of 2018.
In the retrial, prosecutors argued the pair knew their young son was sick, telling court they should have taken Ezekiel to a doctor long before they had to call 911.
The Stephans said they believed Ezekiel was recovering at the time and court heard the couple didn’t seek medical attention until they called ambulance when the boy had stopped breathing.
David Stephan, who represented himself during the retrial, also suggested the true cause of their son’s death was a failure by medical professionals to intubate the boy because the ambulance wasn’t properly stocked with the equipment.
The retrial was heard by Clackson alone, who in the introduction to his summary said, "The meningitis Ezekiel had was viral and he did not die from meningitis, but from the lack of oxygen.
"Therefore, I have concluded that the Stephans are not guilty of the charge."
The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service issued the following statement on Friday morning regarding the verdict.
"We respect the decision of the Court. This has been a challenging case for everyone involved. The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service will review the decision to determine next steps. As such, no further comment will be provided."