David Stephan's 'Dear Jury' letter could haunt him at sentencing, law experts say

Law experts say the "Dear Jury" letter David Stephan posted to Facebook after being convicted in the meningitis death of his son Ezekiel may come back to haunt him when he faces the court to be sentenced.

Facebook post blasting the 'deception, drama and trickery' of the Crown could be cited as aggravating feature

David Stephan was found guilty of failing to provide the necessities of life to his toddler son, Ezekiel, who died in 2012. (Canadian Press/Facebook)

Law experts say the "Dear Jury" letter David Stephan posted to Facebook after being convicted in the death of his son Ezekiel may come back to haunt him when he faces the court to be sentenced.

On Tuesday, a jury found David and his wife, Collet Stephan, guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their toddler Ezekiel, who died from meningitis.

The next day, David posted a stinging rebuke of the way the case was handled, addressed directly to jurors.

The online message blasted what David described as the "deception, drama and trickery" of the Crown, which he said has led to "a dangerous precedent being set in Canada."

Criminal defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli said publicly lashing out at the justice system can be risky for someone awaiting sentencing after a criminal conviction.

"This individual is still before the courts and is criticizing both the Crown prosecutor and essentially the trial process itself, and that never bodes well for someone who is appearing before the courts for sentencing," he said.

Peter Sankoff, who teaches in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta, said the Facebook post goes beyond "just expressing dismay with the verdict" and could have some impact on the sentence the judge ultimately hands down.

"It's sort of impugning the repute of both the Crown and the system," Sankoff said of Stephan's letter to jurors.

"So it's definitely possible the Crown would try to tender it in sentencing and to suggest that it's an aggravating feature that should be considered."

David and Collet Stephan are due back in court in June, when a sentencing date is to be set.

The maximum penalty for failing to provide the necessaries of life is five years in prison.

With files from CBC's Jennifer Lee


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