An Alberta couple whose son died of meningitis after being treated with natural remedies were told to take their son to a doctor a day before his death, court heard Tuesday.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife, Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

As the trial continued for a second day in Lethbridge on Tuesday, David Stephan kept his arm wrapped around his wife's shoulders for most of the day.

Just days before his death, Ezekiel fell asleep in the bathtub, the court heard.

Worried, his mother called a friend who is a registered nurse. That friend, Terrie Meynders, told the court she didn't see anything obviously wrong with the toddler, who was sleeping when she came by.

Ezekiel Stephan

Ezekiel Stephan died in 2012 from meningitis. (Facebook)

'Knowledge is power'

However, Meynders said she told Collet Stephan it could be meningitis and she should take the boy to see a doctor.

"I always say that knowledge is power," she told the court. "In my mind, if he was sick, it would be helpful to find out why."

The court heard that the Stephans did not seek medical help until the next day, when the toddler stopped breathing.

Ezekiel was airlifted to a hospital in Calgary and, after five days, doctors took him off life-support.

The Stephans are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life by failing to get their child medical attention.

In the days leading up to his death, they had treated Ezekiel with a number of home remedies, including water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root as his condition deteriorated.

Would now go to doctor 'without hesitation'

A social worker who interviewed the couple in hospital while their brain-damaged toddler was on life-support testified that she asked the Stephans what they would do if their other son became sick.

They told her "without hesitation" that they'd bring him to a doctor, she said.

The trial continues in Lethbridge


  • An earlier version of this story said the court heard that the parents tried treating their toddler with homeopathy. In fact, the court heard that the couple told police they preferred naturopathic remedies because of their family's negative experiences with the medical system.
    Mar 09, 2016 1:29 PM MT