Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

A B.C. father whose conviction was upheld for failing to provide the necessaries of life to his son has posted a Facebook response critical of the judges and prosecutors on the case along with the entire justice system.

David Stephan and his wife, Collet, were found guilty last year in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis.

Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard they treated the 19-month-old boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than taking him to a doctor.

“I have come to … realize that within the current system there is no room for justice and truth, there is no humanity and there definitely is no love,” David Stephan wrote from his home in Nelson, hours after the Alberta Court of Appeal decision on Wednesday.

In the post that included two photos of his three children and pregnant wife, Stephan said he described the appeal process as a “rollercoaster of emotions.”

Two of the three Appeal Court judges supported the conviction, but Justice Brian O’Ferrall offered a dissenting opinion. He said the Stephans should have been granted a new trial.

“I have been strongly cautioned to keep quiet as these types of posts could influence the outcome of court decisions, bail hearings etc … But this world needs more people that are willing to take a stand for truth … regardless of the cost,” Stephan said.

“People like Justice O’Ferrall, who was willing to go against the grain and judge righteously, in light of whatever political pressure that he was up against.”

Because of the split decision, the Stephans have automatic leave for the Supreme Court of Canada to hear their arguments, if they choose to take their appeal to that level.

Stephan didn’t directly indicate if they would do so, but he noted he and his wife are grateful they have finally paid off $500,000 in legal bills. He also gave thanks for $150,000 they received in donations.

“But on the other hand we are not excited about the fact that the legal fees are now going to start accumulating again,” he wrote.

Stephan, who said his wife is expecting another child soon, also wrote in the Facebook post about the “dismay” he felt no longer being able to be there to support his wife through the birthing process and meet the newest member of their family until he gets out of jail.

Stephan sentenced to four months behind bars

Stephan said the trial judge erred in his charge to jurors and gave them no choice but to find the couple guilty.

He also pointed to what he called a number of “glaring issues” in the case, including “withheld and falsified” evidence and an “elaborate coverup” of what he said was an ill-equipped ambulance. He said that led to Ezekiel going without oxygen for over eight minutes.

Witnesses at the trial said the little boy’s body was so stiff he couldn’t sit in his car seat, so the toddler had to lie on a mattress when his mother drove him from their rural home to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge, where she bought an echinacea mixture.

The Stephans never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was rushed to a local hospital and died after being transported to Calgary’s Children’s Hospital.

David Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was ordered to spend three months under house arrest — the only exceptions being trips to church and to medical appointments.

During the jury’s decision of the guilty verdict, Stephan recalled that one of the crown prosecutors made the statement that “sometimes love just isn’t enough”.

“With all of the corruption, deception, murdering, and greed that I see plaguing humanity and finding its way into the highest levels of government, I argue that it isn’t that “love just isn’t enough” but rather that there just isn’t enough love,” he said.

The two were released early pending the outcome of the appeal.

The Crown has indicated it will appeal the sentences as being too lenient.

Stephan appeared to believe he will be forced to resume serving his sentence immediately.

He indicated he regrets not speaking out sooner.

“I offer my sincere apologies for remaining quiet over the past year as I valued my false sense of security more than the need to openly speak the truth by exposing the corruption,” he said.

“I have come to see that if I remain quiet today, someone else will needlessly suffer tomorrow.”

With files from Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summer Stories Around Town program encourages outdoor reading in Elk Valley

With storywalks and clothesline stories in Fernie and Sparwood, everyone can get reading

School District 5 identifies funding needs in yearly budget report

The SD5 board presented three main projects that need increased funding in the coming years

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read