The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear an appeal in a high-profile case in Alberta that saw a couple tried twice in the death of their sick toddler.
David and Collet Stephan have been accused of failing to see a doctor sooner for their 18-month-old son, Ezekiel, before his death in 2012.
They testified that they were treating the boy with natural remedies for what they thought was croup.
A jury found them guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessities of life, but the Supreme Court of Canada overturned that verdict and ordered a second trial.
A judge who heard the second trial without a jury found them not guilty in 2019.
In March 2021, the Alberta Court of Appeal granted a Crown application to set aside that acquittal and ordered another trial.
Crown prosecutors later stayed charges against the Stephans in June 2021, but the application for leave to appeal the decision on a third trial has already been submitted to the Supreme Court.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not give reasons for its decision.
Sarah Langley, chief prosecutor of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service’s Specialized Appeals and Prosecutions Office, thanked the Supreme Court for its review of the case.
“Although the court upheld the order for a new trial, a stay of proceedings was granted … on the charges brought against the Stephans on June 22, 2021,” she said in a statement. -mail.
“One of the primary functions of a Crown prosecutor is to assess their case on an ongoing basis and to ensure that all aspects of the evidence are carefully considered at every stage of a prosecution.”
Langley said it had been more than nine years since Ezekiel had died and the available evidence had deteriorated from the previous two trials.
“The available evidence is no longer sufficient to meet the (Alberta Crown Prosecution Service) standard for prosecution and there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction,” she said.
Jason Demers, a lawyer for the Stephans, said in an email to CBC News on Thursday that his clients were disappointed the Supreme Court would not hear their appeal, “thus leaving what we believe to be uncertainty in the law.”
“The SCC obviously had a different opinion, and while we don’t agree with this decision, we accept it,” Demers said.
“My clients are very concerned about what this decision will mean for other parents who find themselves in a situation similar to the one they were in.”