Calgary

Religious mother accused of causing son's death turns up at court after warrants issued

Sporting a 1920s flapper-style hat, a mother accused of causing the death of her son by refusing to take him to a doctor showed up at court Friday after warrants were issued for her last week.

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark are charged with criminal negligence causing death

Jennifer Clark and her husband, Jeromie Clark, face charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death after their 14-month-old son died in 2013. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Sporting a 1920s flapper-style hat, a mother accused of causing the death of her son by refusing to take him to a doctor showed up at court Friday after warrants were issued for her last week.

Jennifer Clark and her husband, Jeromie Clark, face charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death after their 14-month-old son, John, died from a staph infection and malnutrition in 2013. 

Last week, her lawyer told the judge he hadn't been able to get in touch with his client for months. Despite police attempting to track her down, Clark seemed to have disappeared, he said. So Justice Earl Wilson issued a warrant for her arrest.

Jeromie Clark was in court both times. He had not lost contact with his lawyer.

Prosecutor Shane Parker told the judge that just hours after the warrant was issued, the woman was located.

"The warrant worked, I guess," said Wilson.

When she appeared in court on Friday morning, Clark was told to remove her hat in court. But she told the sheriff and then the judge it was a "religious head covering" as part of her Seventh-day Adventist religion.

'A lack of effort'

Clark was ordered to keep a cellphone on her at all times from now on.

"I'm not going to have any game-playing," Wilson told Clark. "You understand me, ma'am?"

"Oh definitely," she responded and apologized for the confusion.

But Wilson said, "There was no confusion, there was a lack of effort on your part."

Clark, by then in tears, was taken into custody until her bail conditions could be amended and her cellphone could be activated.

She was expected to be released later on Friday. 

Toddler never brought to doctor

A three-week jury trial will begin Oct. 1. 

Jurors will hear about the Clarks' toddler, John Clark, who police have said was born at home and was never taken to see a doctor. John died the day after he was brought to hospital. 

Both husband and wife have caused delays in their court case since their 2014 arrest, by firing their lawyers and hiring new ones. 

Last year, Jennifer failed in her attempt to have her trial delayed because she wanted a new, female lawyer with experience representing people facing the same charges. The judge called that demand "unreasonable" and said she had not acted "honestly." 

At the time of the couple's arrest, police said the family followed a strict vegan diet based on an extreme interpretation of the Seventh-day Adventist religion.