Supreme Court of Canada orders new trial for David and Collet Stephan
Canada's highest court has ordered a new trial for the parents of a 19-month-old boy who died from bacterial meningitis in 2012.
David and Collet Stephan were found guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son, Ezekiel.
During the trial, court heard that the boy was treated with homemade remedies, like onion and horseradish, instead of being seen by a physician.
The couple eventually called 911 but the boy died at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
David was handed a four month jail sentence and Collet was given three months of house arrest.
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction in November of 2017 but the couple was able to take their case to the Supreme Court because the ruling was not unanimous.
“We feel very vindicated, we’re extremely grateful. We’re grateful because this is a move in the right direction and we now have the opportunity to bring the whole truth forward and we’re just so excited to have the ability to do that and to be able to uphold parental rights here in Canada,” said David Stephan following the ruling. “There appears to have been major errors within the trial judge’s instructions to the original jury and they had no choice but to find us guilty, based on those errors in law.”
The Supreme Court of Canada made its decision on Tuesday morning after hearing from the couple’s lawyer and the Crown.
The office of the Solicitor General issued the following statement regarding the Stephans' case on Tuesday afternoon:
"Now that a new trial has been ordered, the file will return to Lethbridge where the case will appear in Queens Bench to set a new trial date. The Crown has an obligation to continually assess the evidence/file against the prosecution standards of a “reasonable likelihood of conviction” and if it is “in the public interest to proceed” with a case."