NEWS
03/23/2016 15:22 EDT | Updated 03/24/2017 01:12 EDT

Alberta lawyer for parents charged in son's death says he was getting better

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The lawyer for the parents charged in the death of their two-year-old son says they thought he had a cold or the flu.

The toddler's parents, David and Collet Stephan, formerly of Glenwood, Alta., are charged with failing to provide the necessities of life for 18-month-old Ezekiel.

Defence lawyer Shawn Buckley told the jury on Wednesday that evidence will show the boy appeared to get better at times, even right up until the night he stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital in March 2012.

The trial has heard the boy had been sick for about 2 1/2 weeks and his parents gave him natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.

After being taken to Cardston hospital, Ezekiel was rushed to a Calgary hospital, where he died a week later from bacterial meningitis and a lung infection.

The trial has been adjourned until April 11, and is expected to continue for a least a week, and possibly longer.

Earlier Wednesday Dr. Jonathan James Gamble, a pediatrics specialist at the Alberta Childrens' Hospital in Calgary, told court a runny nose, fever, lehtary, loss of appetite, and occasional back stiffness could all be indications of a cold or flu.

Those were the symptoms Ezekiel had in the two weeks leading up to his death.

Gamble also testified that symptoms such as difficulty swallowing and being so stiff a child could not sit in a car seat, should have led to medical intervention.

The jury has already heard that a friend who was a nurse told the Stephans that their boy might have viral meningitis and advised them to take him to a doctor.

The Stephans researched treatments online and the next day picked up an echinacea mixture from a naturopath in Lethbridge. But Ezekiel was too stiff to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress in the Stephan vehicle as they drove to Lethbridge.

(Lethbridge Herald)