Clinic employee testifies in trial of Alberta parents accused in son’s meningitis death
LETHBRIDGE – Testimony continued Wednesday in the jury trial of a southern Alberta couple accused in the death of their 18-month-old son Ezekiel.
David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for their son, who died of meningitis in March 2012.
Wednesday’s proceedings included the cross-examination of registered nurse and midwife Terry Meynders, who is also a friend of the accused.
The fourth Crown witness, another social worker who interviewed the Stephans at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, was also called. She said the couple was cooperative and helpful and that they were both crying and emotional throughout the interview.
Testimony continued in the afternoon with an employee at the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic taking the stand. She stated she has no medical training, just experience.
During the Crown’s questioning, she testified she got a call from Collet Stephan on March 13, 2012, asking if the clinic had anything to help build a baby’s immune system. The staff member testified the woman on the phone (Collet) said her baby might have a form of meningitis. The clinic employee said she then told the caller to see a medical doctor.
She testified the mother told her she was afraid for the child to get a spinal tap, and that they thought the illness might be viral rather than bacterial because he didn’t have a fever. She also testified the mother told her a nurse had been checking him. The employee said she asked the doctor about giving something for the immune system and she said the only thing they could give is “Blast,” an echinacea mixture. The employee checked with the doctor to make sure that was right, then Collet came in to pick up the mixture but didn’t bring in the child.
During cross-examination by the Defence, the employee said she wasn’t sure if she told the mother: “You should go to a doctor,” or: “Have you Seen a doctor?” and did not recall mentioning anything about a doctor when Collet came in to pick up the echinacea mixture.
On Monday, the Crown said the parents should have ensured Ezekiel medical attention long before he stopped breathing.
In his opening statement, Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles said, “the jury needs to answer this question: at what point should the accused have taken Ezekiel to the doctor?”
“I’m not saying they killed him, abused him or ignored him—they loved him,” he said. “They didn’t take him to a doctor until it was too late—far too late.”
The medical examiner is expected to take the stand on Thursday.
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