CALGARY — A 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.
"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, B.C., hours after the Alberta Court of Appeal decision on Wednesday.
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.
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 in his Facebook post.
"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 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 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.
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, who said his wife is expecting another child soon, 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."
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press