Southern Alberta Newspapers
A husband and wife convicted two years ago of failing to provide the necessaries of life after using homemade remedies to treat their dying son are expected to set a new trial date when they return to court next month.
David and Collet Stephan, who won an appeal earlier this year when the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the 2016 conviction, are scheduled to have their matter heard in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench on July 9, when a new trial date will be set.
During a hearing Monday in Lethbridge, the Crown and defence also agreed to meet Feb. 25 to March 8 of next year for a pre-trial conference, in which they will address motions and hold a voir dire, a mini trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence. The trial likely won’t be held until sometime later in the year, or possibly in 2019.
The Supreme Court of Canada overturned the conviction last month after hearing arguments from the Crown and counsel for Stephans, who were previously found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in 2012.
Justice Michael Moldaver, speaking for the high court, said the trial judge did not properly instruct jurors on what would be a marked departure from reasonable behaviour “in a way that the jury could understand.”
David Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was ordered to spend three months under house arrest, with exceptions for trips to church and medical appointments.
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction against the Stephans last November, but because the ruling wasn’t unanimous, the couple had an automatic right to take their case to the Supreme Court.
The Stephans treated their sick child over several days with various home-made remedies, and never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was taken to a local hospital and died after being transported to Calgary’s Children’s Hospital.
Court was told Monday that defence intends to discuss with the Crown the possibility of re-electing from a trial with a jury, to a trial without a jury, which would shorten the hearing, currently estimated to run four weeks.