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Ezekiel Stephan Case: Alberta Parents Appeal Conviction In Toddler's Meningitis Death

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CALGARY — Two southern Alberta parents convicted of failing to get proper medical treatment for their son are appealing the court's verdict.

David Stephan, 33, and his wife Collet, 36, are seeking to overturn the judgment, said Calgary lawyer Karen Molle.

"I have filed appeals on their behalf,'' she said.

Their move joins an appeal filed Thursday from the Crown, which argues the sentences given to the couple were too lenient.

david stephan collet stephanCollet and David Stephan were convicted of failing to get proper medical treatment for their son. (Photo: CP)

The couple were found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their 19-month-old son Ezekiel in 2012. The toddler was treated with hot peppers, garlic, onions and horseradish and later died in hospital of meningitis.

In June, Justice Rodney Jerke sentenced David Stephan to jail for four months and gave his wife three months of around-the-clock house arrest — allowing her to only go out for medical appointments and church.

Both will be on probation for two years after they complete their sentences and will have to complete 240 hours of community service by 2018.

The Crown said the sentences aren't proportionate to the gravity of the offence or to the degree of responsibility of the offender.

Parents 'wilfully blind' to Ezekiel's condition: judge

It also asserts the judge gave insufficient weight to denunciation and deterrance and failed to give enough weight to aggravating factors. The appeal also says Justice Jerke overemphasized mitigating factors in the couple's favour while passing sentence.

No court date has been scheduled for the case.

The Stephans argue that the judge's instructions to the jury were unfair. They also argue court should have accepted expert testimony that was excluded.

Jerke said that although both parents were "wilfully blind'' to the boy's condition, the father was especially so. He said David Stephan seemed more concerned about being punished than about his inaction when his son was sick.

ezekiel stephanEzekiel Stephan died of meningitis after being transported to Calgary Children's Hospital. (Photo: Facebook)

"Mr. Stephan's post-conviction actions demonstrate a complete lack of remorse,'' the judge told the court in Lethbridge, Alta. "To this day he refuses to admit his actions had any impact.''

The prosecution had asked for a sentence in the range of three to 4 1/2 years, but Jerke said that was too much.

The trial heard the little boy was too stiff to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress when his mother drove him from their rural home to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge to pick up an echinacea mixture.

The Stephans never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was rushed to a local hospital, and died after being transported to Calgary Children's Hospital.