David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel who died in March 2012. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Judge finds Alberta couple not guilty in toddler son’s death

It was the second trial for the Stephans, who were found guilty by a jury in 2016

An Alberta couple who treated their son with herbal remedies rather than seek medical attention have been found not guilty in the boy’s death.

David and Collet Stephan were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

The official cause of death was bacterial meningitis, but a pathologist called by the defence said the child died from a lack of oxygen to the brain when he was in an ambulance.

Justice Terry Clackson spoke to the court in Lethbridge, Alta., for only four minutes before releasing his written decision.

“While it may seem odd that a parent who does nothing with a terminally ill child may not be culpable, it must be remembered that this case is about endangering life, not … any of the other offences which such callous behaviour might substantiate,” Clackson wrote.

Supporters in the courtroom cheered and Collet Stephan cried as she hugged her husband.

It was the second trial for the Stephans, who were found guilty by a jury in 2016. The Supreme Court of Canada set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Alberta couple charged in toddler son’s death to learn fate from judge

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