David and Collet Stephan took the stand this week in the Lethbridge Courthouse. The couple were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 18-month old son Ezekiel, who died of meningitis. Crown prosecutor Britta Christensen suggested that David knew that the natural remedies used to treat Ezekiel would not cure bacterial meningitis. But David testified that he and his wife were not suspicious of bacterial meningitis at the time.
He gave a recount of the events leading up to his son’s death, saying his son had recovered from what they believed to be croup 48 hours prior to when he stopped breathing.
Collet Stephan broke down in tears several times during her time on the stand while she testified that the son’s death still haunts her. She says from February 27 to March 11 of 2012, her son was “waxing and waning” in his sickness - getting better than getting worse.
Co-prosecutor Joshua Chan refers to testimony given by Collet’s friend and nurse Terrie Shaw, who researched symptoms of bacterial, viral and fungal meningitis. She says she recommended that Collet take her son to see a doctor. Collet testified she does not remember hearing that recommendation but recalls that Shaw said that if she took Ezekiel to the hospital, she would likely be turned away due to lack of symptoms, as he was only showing signs of lethargy.
Collet says the following day, she was holding her son and listening to his irregular breathing when he first stopped breathing. She then said she patted him on the back which resumed his breathing and put him to bed where he stopped breathing again. It was then that the couple called 911, but declined an ambulance once Ezekiel resumed breathing, instead opting to drive Ezekiel to the hospital themselves.
David testified that he felt it would be faster to drive the toddler to the Cardston hospital, rather than wait for an ambulance to make a round trip. While in the car, Ezekiel stopped breathing again and David made a second 911 call, this time opting to meet the ambulance while en route, while his wife performed CPR.
The trial is expected to continue into July.