February 29, 2016 8:50 am
Updated: February 29, 2016 7:55 pm

Trial begins for David and Collet Stephan after death of 18-month-old son

WATCH ABOVE: A four week trial opened in Lethbridge court Monday for David and Collet Stephan. The couple are charged with failing to provide the necessities of life for their toddler who died of meningitis in 2012. Quinn Campbell reports.

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Jury selection began Monday in southern Alberta for a man and woman on trial in the death of their toddler.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for 18-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

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READ MORE: Trial to go ahead for southern Alberta parents charged with failing to provide the necessities of life

Six hundred jury summons were sent out. The process was slotted for two days, if needed, but the Crown and the defence were able to select the jury Monday morning. The high number of summons is partially due to the lengthy trail schedule.

Eight women and four men will make up the jury that decides the fate of the Stephans. There were also two alternates selected, both women.

A voir dire in the trial came into effect Monday afternoon, which refers to a trial within a trial to discuss the admissibility of specific evidence. The voir dire is under a publication ban and the jury is not present for the process, which is expected to take until Friday.

The Crown is expecting to call 17 witnesses during the trial, which is scheduled for four weeks.

RCMP said at the time that the boy had been ill for a couple of weeks but his parents only called for an ambulance when he stopped breathing.

He was airlifted to a hospital in Calgary and, after five days, doctors took him off life support machines.

Doctors told the boy’s parents he died of meningitis.

They run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support out of Raymond, Alta.

With files from Global’s Quinn Campbell

Editor’s note: This article has been updated after Collet and David Stephan said their son was 18 months old when he died, not 19 months old.

© 2016 The Canadian Press and Global News

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