Judge says no legal fee cash for couple charged in son's death, no trial delay

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeals trial in Calgary on March 9, 2017.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

CALGARY - A Calgary judge has refused requests from an Alberta couple facing a retrial in the meningitis death of their son for their legal fees to be covered and for a delay in the case.

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills.

In 2016, the Stephans were found guilty for failing to provide the necessaries of life to their 19-month-old son Ezekiel.

The conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada and a new trial is scheduled for June.

Justice John Rooke also turned down the couple's request for a stay of the proceedings.

He told David Stephan that the upcoming trial will not be an inquiry into the death of his son, but will decide on the couple's guilt or innocence.

The couple's trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard evidence that they treated the boy with natural remedies and smoothies made with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doctor. Ezekiel had been ill for several days and at one point became so stiff he couldn't sit in his car seat.

Once the boy stopped breathing, the Stephans eventually called 911 but he died in hospital in Calgary in 2012.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled the original judge did not properly instruct jurors and ordered a new trial.

The couple's application for cash asked that they be granted $1 million to cover their past legal expenses and that another $3 million be placed in trust for any future defence fees.

The Stephans say they have liquidated their assets, are in debt to their previous lawyer and don't have enough money to obtain the necessary assistance to receive a fair trial.

David Stephan has already told court that the applications are the result of recently released disclosure evidence that suggests 719 pages of defence material was released to the Crown by the RCMP.

The Stephans now live in Grande Prairie, Alta.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter


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