Calgary

2019 trial date set for parents previously convicted in meningitis death of Alberta toddler

David and Collet Stephan will stand trial — once again — next spring, following their successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in May.

Supreme Court of Canada ruled in May that couple should get new trial

David and Collet Stephan were found guilty in a court in Lethbridge, Alta., in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel. They treated him with hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish before he died of bacterial meningitis. (Facebook)

David and Collet Stephan will stand trial — once again — next spring, in their 19-month-old son Ezekiel's 2012 meningitis death, following their successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in May. 

In 2016, the couple was found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to Ezekiel. 

In November, the Alberta Appeal Court upheld the convictions. But because one of the three judges disagreed and found the couple should have been granted a new trial, the Stephans had automatic leave to have the Supreme Court of Canada hear arguments. 

Convictions for the pair were overturned and a new trial was ordered in May by the Supreme Court, after agreeing with arguments from the Stephans' lawyer that the trial judge erred in the instructions to the jury. 

On Monday, during an appearance in Lethbridge's Court of Queen's bench, defence counsel for the Stephans scheduled the four-week trial to begin June 3, 2019. They also re-elected to be tried by judge alone, instead of by judge and jury like their first trial.

During the 2016 trial, jurors heard the Stephans treated their son with natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion. 

The Stephans refused to take the boy to a doctor even when he became so stiff he couldn't sit in his car seat.

Only when Ezekiel stopped breathing did the parents call 911. After days of being ill, he was eventually rushed to a local hospital but died after being transported to Calgary.

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

With files from Patrick Burles and Meghan Grant