David and Collet Stephan’s retrial set to begin Monday in Lethbridge court
The retrial for David and Collet Stephan is set to begin Monday in Lethbridge Provincial Court.
The couple is facing one count each of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their 18-month-old son Ezekiel, who died of bacterial meningitis in 2012.
The Stephans were found guilty in 2016, however, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial for the couple who used homemade remedies instead of seeking medical attention for their son.
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction last November, but because the ruling wasn’t unanimous, the couple had an automatic right to take their case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court heard arguments from the couple’s lawyer and the Crown before making the unusual move of ruling immediately from the bench.
Justice Michael Moldaver, speaking for the high court, said the trial judge did not properly instruct jurors “in a way that the jury could understand … accordingly we would allow the appeal, quash the convictions and order a new trial.”
Originally, David was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife, Collet, was given three months of strict house arrest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She was only to be allowed to go out for medical appointments and church.
Both were ordered to stay on probation for two years after they completed their sentences and would have had to complete 240 hours of community service by 2018.
Earlier this year, the couple was denied money for legal frees and a delay in the retrial.
The Stephans had filed an application asking for $1 million to cover their past legal expenses and another $3 million be placed in trust for any future defence fees.
The couple said they had liquidated their assets, are in debt to their previous lawyer and don’t have enough money to obtain the necessary assistance to receive a fair trial.
LISTEN: Timothy Caulfield joins Rob Breakenridge to discuss what the Stephans have to gain in a retrial
They were told by the judge they would be better off taking their request for legal fees to a civil court.
In March, applications were filed by the couple to have certain statements withheld from the retrail that were used as evidence by the Crown in the first trial. Some of the statements the Stephens attempted to have removed were made when their son was admitted to hospital. Those applications were denied.
During a pretrial hearing, the couple tried to have statements they made to police, hospital staff and to child welfare workers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital at the time of their their son’s death exempt from use.
The couple said they were not in an operational state of mind to give statements because they were tired, stressed and felt trapped and pressured by the overwhelming presence of police.
Justice J.D Rooke denied their applications, saying that was not the case. The judge indicated that those who asked the Stephans questions did so correctly under the circumstances and that he didn’t find any rights were breached.
David Stephan said that he and his wife, who allege corruption on the part of police and health officials, were frustrated by the decision.
“He’s basically picked them all apart piece by piece,” Stephan said. “He’s taken major concern over all the major ones that would expose the RCMP corruption and any hospital corruption in engineering a case against us.”
At the conclusion of the pretrial hearing, David Stephan told the media he and his wife were not sure if they would represent themselves or retain legal counsel for the retrial, which is slated to last four weeks.
On Friday, the Stephans appeared in a Lethbridge courtroom to present three applications in an attempt to delay their retrial.
All of their requests were denied, with the judge ordering their retrial proceed as scheduled.
Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of the Stephans’ case
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