LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — A father who used natural remedies to treat his son before the toddler died of meningitis expressed a strong distrust of individuals in authority during cross-examination at his trial Wednesday.
David Stephan, 32, is charged along with his wife, Collet, 35, with failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel in 2012.
Ezekiel, who had been given smoothies with hot peppers and horseradish when he became ill, stopped breathing and later died in hospital.
Ezekiel Stephan died of meningitis. His parents are charged with failing to provide the necessities of life. (Photo: Prayers For Ezekiel/Facebook)
The Crown asked Stephan under cross-examination why he hadn't told doctors at the Alberta Children's Hospital, social workers or the RCMP that Ezekiel had shown signs of improvement from what the Stephans believed to be croup that allowed him to go to church and attend preschool before having his condition drop off again.
"The fact that they were there to talk to you — you were concerned they were going to take Ezra (older son) away, right?'' asked prosecutor Clayton Giles.
"You know what my main concern was at that point? It was the idea that they might think we were negligent parents if they found out that we didn't put Ezekiel in a car seat. I felt that it would be one strike,'' Stephan replied.
"I didn't feel that our lack of communication of that to the doctors or whoever it was would bring them to the opinion that we were neglectful as parents.''
Father also concerned about RCMP statement
The Crown contends the couple didn't do enough to ensure the child had proper access to medical care before he became seriously ill.
Stephan said he was also concerned an RCMP officer wanted a statement, even though the doctor had warned an investigation was normal in cases involving a child's death. The officer gave the couple the option of waiting until the next day, but Stephan said they refused.
"I think it would be extremely hard to get any rest with the fear of knowing that in the morning you're waking up to needing to meet with the RCMP about a situation that's just escalated from child protection services to all of a sudden there's numerous police officers that are waiting around,'' Stephan said.
"Now you're thinking, 'Oh, my goodness. Are they going to arrest us? What's going on here?''
"Are they going to arrest us?"
Giles asked him if he didn't see the interview as an opportunity to clear himself and the officer hadn't told him he was under arrest or warned him "not to leave town.''
Stephan said he was worried because there were numerous police officers in the area of the hospital where he and his wife had been waiting.
"If one or two police officers show up, that's one thing, because they come in pairs. But if there's more than that, my assumption is that they are there for a purpose,'' Stephan testified.
Fear of police
"So am I under fear of being arrested? Absolutely at this point. Do I feel I've done anything wrong? No I don't, but I felt that somebody else has clearly felt that we've done something wrong to the point that there's this incredible show of force there.
"We're pretty terrified at this point.''
"So you assumed that all of the policemen were there for you?'' Giles asked.
"That's correct,'' Stephan answered.
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