Calgary

Radita murder trial: Parents had 2nd child seized by social services and a baby who died

A Calgary mother and father on trial for the death of their teenage diabetic son had earlier run-ins with social services officials in Ontario concerning the care of another child, CBC News has learned.

Emil and Rodica Radita's 3-month-old baby girl died when the family lived in Ontario

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

Calgary parents on trial for the death of their teenage diabetic son had earlier run-ins with social services officials in Ontario concerning the care of another child, CBC News has learned.

Emil and Rodica Radita are on trial for first-degree murder after their 15-year-old son Alex was found dead inside the family's Calgary home weighing just 37 pounds. 

He died of starvation and neglect, complications from untreated diabetes.

More than a decade earlier, one of his siblings had also been taken from the family by authorities in Ontario after the Raditas refused to allow a hospital to treat the sick infant. 

The couple also had a baby who died in the 1990s in unclear circumstances, records show.

The family subsequently moved to British Columbia.

Information relating to the family's time in Ontario comes from a 2004 testimony transcript of B.C. social worker Patricia MacDonald, who gave evidence at a hearing in an effort to keep Alex from being returned to his parents.

In 2003, five-year-old Alex was taken to hospital so ill, one witness at his parents' murder trial testified he was hours from dying of untreated diabetes.

At that time he was taken from his family by B.C. social services for several months.

The child protection hearing before B.C. provincial court Judge Gary Cohen took place nearly a year after Alex was removed from the family home.

At the end of the child protection hearing, Cohen refused to accept MacDonald's testimony that the Raditas were likely to continue withholding treatment.

MacDonald also testified there was a risk the family would flee the jurisdiction — so Alex would not be able to be monitored — as they had done in Ontario years earlier.

The trial will continue in the fall for Emil and Rodica Radita, who are on trial for first-degree murder after their 15-year-old son Alex was found dead inside the family's Calgary home weighing just 37 pounds. (CBC)

Baby girl dies

In the 1990s, before the Raditas moved to B.C., the family lived in two Ontario cities — Windsor and Kitchener.

Ontario Children's Aid became involved twice when the parents refused to allow a hospital to treat their ill child, according to MacDonald's testimony.

In preparing to present evidence that Alex should not be returned to his parents, MacDonald contacted Children's Aid where she learned details of the Raditas time in Ontario.

That's how she learned the family moved twice so that investigations could not be completed, MacDonald told Cohen.

In the first case, one of the Radita children was born prematurely and needed oxygen, but Rodica refused to let medical staff treat the newborn. At that time, Children's Aid was called in and seized the infant so that medical care could continue.

When the same child was five months old, the baby fell ill and Rodica gave the infant adult Tylenol. The baby was brought to hospital and began having seizures — though it's unclear if the seizures were related to the pain reliever.

Anti-seizure medication was given to the child, but Rodica was so resistant that Children's Aid had to step in again so that the sick baby could receive treatment. He was returned once the Raditas agreed to administer the medicine.

The Raditas also had a 3½-month-old baby girl who died in the early 1990s in Ontario, but the circumstances of the infant's death are unclear.

MacDonald testified that she was told the baby had bronchial pneumonia, but the parents refused to tell her the girl's name or birth date so the social worker was not able to obtain the coroner's report.

Throughout the four-week Court of Queen's Bench judge-alone trial, Justice Karen Horner heard evidence that after the Raditas moved to Alberta around 2009, they never took their diabetic son to a doctor and he never attended school.

Paramedics found his skeletal body in May, 2013. He was so badly emaciated, the medical examiner testified the boy was in the 0.1 percentile for 15-year-olds based on his weight and height.

The trial — set for four weeks — ran out of time and will continue in September for a week.

Prosecutors Susan Pepper and Marta Juswiak have rested the Crown's case and it's not yet known if defence lawyers Jim Lutz and Andrea Serink will call evidence. 

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