Radita parents accused of murdering diabetic son refused to accept his diagnosis, says Crown

Rodica Radita expressed to doctors and social workers over and over again that she did not accept her son's diabetes diagnosis and was reluctant to treat it, according to evidence the prosecution wants allowed in the murder trial of the Calgary mother and her husband.

WARNING: This story contains photos that may be disturbing to some readers

Alex Radita needed medical attention months before his death, a diabetes expert testified at his parents' first-degree murder trial. This photo was at his 15th birthday party, three months before his death. (Court exhibit)

Rodica Radita expressed to doctors and social workers over and over again that she did not accept her son's diabetes diagnosis and was reluctant to treat it, according to evidence the prosecution wants allowed in the murder trial of the Calgary mother and her husband, Emil.

The Raditas have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of their 15-year-old son, Alex Radita, in May 2013.

Alex was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age three when his family lived in Surrey, B.C. After numerous hospitalizations over the next 12 years, he died in Calgary weighing just 37 pounds.

Crown prosecutor Susan Pepper is arguing on Friday — Day 4 of the trial — that evidence from the family's time in British Columbia should be allowed to be heard in the trial. It includes 11 medical, social services and police witnesses among others.

The trial is by judge alone.

After his diagnosis, Alex went years without seeing medical professionals and was hospitalized several times, once when he was near death after his parents failed to properly treat him.

Throughout the years, Rodica told medical staff she did not agree with the diabetes diagnosis and did not want to give Alex insulin. At one point, she said she believed the insulin was giving Alex cold sores and resisted increasing the amount he was getting.

This photo of Alex Radita was taken at his 15th birthday party about three months before his death. It shows he was already showing signs of emaciation. (Court exhibit)

Doctors suspected parents were faking blood sugar readings in 2000

In December 2000, Alex was hospitalized for the first time. The hospital initially refused to discharge Alex because his parents were in denial about his medical condition. The family was trained on how to treat his diabetes and Alex was returned to them.

Three months later, in March 2001, Alex was again admitted to hospital under the threat that he would be removed from his family's home after doctors suspected his parents were faking his blood sugar readings.

Rodica and Emil were supposed to test him four times each day and report those findings once a week to the hospital. 

The Raditas were trained further and Alex was returned under the supervision of a doctor.

For six more months, the family saw the doctor until he moved his office.

Alex hospitalized in 'grave condition' in 2003

After that, Alex did not receive medical care for the next three and a half years, until he was taken by ambulance to hospital in "grave condition" in October 2003.

Doctors found Alex in terrible shape: his teeth were rotten, his stomach distended, he was malnourished and nearly unconscious.

His blood sugar was undetectable. Rodica Radita told medical staff her son had only been sick for two days.

At that time, the boy was considered "severely underweight" for a five-year-old and weighed 39 pounds, just two pounds heavier than when he died at the age of 15.

Alex remained in hospital for 2½ months and once he was healthy, he was seized by B.C. child and family services for about a year.

During that time he returned to a normal weight and became a talkative child, according to a Crown witness whom Pepper plans to call if the evidence is deemed admissible.

Deterioration 'not visible to the outside world'

In January 2005, Alex was returned to his parents by a B.C. judge despite the director of child and family services seeking a permanent guardianship order.

Justice J.G. Cohen found that Rodica and Emil were capable of treating Alex given monitoring and education.

"[Alex] is now a full-time student under the watchful eye of a teacher each and every day of the school week," wrote Cohen. "Previously he was seen by no one but the family and his deterioration was not visible to the outside world."

For the next three years, until 2008, a doctor supervised Alex's care and his diabetes stabilized. The file on Alex was closed.

Family couldn't be found in 2008

But the family failed to show up for an appointment in July 2008 and an investigation was launched. Alex was found to have been withdrawn from school and the family couldn't be found.

It was later discovered the family moved to Alberta at some point in 2008.

"No action was taken and there was never any interaction between B.C. and Alberta child and family services," said Pepper.

Defence lawyers for the couple will make their arguments on the admissibility after the witnesses testify beginning June 6.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner will decide sometime after the court has heard from those 11 B.C. witnesses.