06/15/2016 04:40 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 04:59 EDT

Alex Radita's Mom Had 'Bizarre Understanding' Of How To Treat Diabetic Son: Doctor

Her son died of untreated diabetes at age 15.

CP/HO-Government of Alberta

CALGARY — A doctor who treated a starved diabetic boy 10 years before his death thought the child's mother should undergo a psychiatric assessment.

Emil Radita, 59, and his wife Rodica Radita, who is 53, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of their 15-year-old son.

Alexandru, who was one of eight children, weighed less than 37 pounds when he died in 2013 of complications due to untreated diabetes and starvation.

"I don't believe she really had an understanding of what diabetes was."

B.C. pediatrician Paul Korn was recalled to the witness stand at the trial in Calgary on Wednesday for cross-examination.

After Alexandru was admitted to hospital in Surrey, B.C., in October 2003, his mother's odd behaviour in refusing to accept a diabetes diagnosis from three years earlier, as well as a failure to provide proper treatment, made Korn think a psychiatric assessment would be a good idea, he said.

"The information that had been presented to me up until that time, in terms of what had happened in 2000, what had happened in 2001, what eventually ended up happening in 2003 — and everything in between — was very unusual,'' Korn recalled telling an RCMP officer at the time.

"I'd been doing pediatrics for 20 years at the time and this was really, really odd. I thought a psychiatric assessment was something that should be considered.''

Suggested parental capacity assessment

Korn also suggested a parental capacity assessment for the Raditas, although he did say he didn't believe the mother's behaviour was intentional or malicious.

The doctor didn't believe the Raditas were targeting Alex or withholding nutrition from him "per se,'' but was concerned about their "bizarre understanding'' of how to manage his medical issues.

"I don't believe she really had an understanding of what diabetes was or what it meant or what the outcome would be if he wasn't treated,'' Korn testified. "I don't think she had an understanding that, untreated, this was a fatal condition.''

Alexandru Radita's parents are on trial in his death. (Photo: Facebook)

The doctor recommended that Alexandru's mother be allowed to remain at his bedside, even though he was being turned over to children's services.

"He was in a very, very fragile state. The mother had been looking after him continuously ... and my feeling was at that time (that) to separate mother from Alex could lead to a very bad outcome for Alex,'' Korn told court.

"He was in a very tenuous state and we weren't really sure that he was going to live in the first few days of his admission to the ICU.''

"I don't think she had an understanding that, untreated, this was a fatal condition."

Justice Karen Horner, who is hearing the case without a jury, has yet to decide if the evidence from British Columbia will be admitted.

Crown prosecutor Susan Pepper urged the court to accept the evidence because it provides "background and narrative.''

"It's about his whole life. He didn't just arrive in Alberta as a blank slate,'' said Pepper, who argued the narrative is complete "with near-death experiences and complete recoveries.''

Not unlike an abusive relationship: prosecutor

She also said it puts into context the relationship between Alexandru and his parents, who she says fostered a complete dependence on them by isolating their son from school and the community.

"This isolation was necessary to allow the Raditas to treat Alexandru's diabetes in an idiosyncratic and dangerous way,'' Pepper said.

"The relationship between Alex and his parents is not unlike an abusive domestic relationship where the abuser isolates the abused in a bid to establish total control over the victim.''

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