The order: The good - The Bad - the inaccurate?
The Ezekiel Stephan case has been one of the most controversial cases in Canadian History. All sides have cried foul.
The Stephans complained about withheld evidence that would have severely damaged the crowns case as well as falsified reports used to prosecute them.
The legal community claims they have been damaged by the negative publicity and the media has made bank off of inaccurate and contradictory reports that have sold papers and attracted viewership from around the globe.
The public has cried out over the medical cutbacks that led to an ambulance being de-stocked of pediatric equipment and parents across Canada have begun to fear prosecution over the use of things like vitamin C and an inability to diagnose their children above the ability of medical professionals.
At the end of the case, evidence that David had been previously been profiled by Alberta Justice as possibly armed and dangerous surfaced. His work with Truehope, a company who has repeatedly sued and been sued by the Government Of Canada over Constitutional and Charter Rights infringements has led many people to conclude that this case is just the tip of the iceberg.
So here we are... Some say this is the end of a long and conflicted case, others say there is more to come. Lets take a look at what was actually in the order and what the implications are for the Stephans. As there are a significant number of items in the order we are going to pick just a few of the more obvious ones today.
Justice rules, it was not abuse, parents are caring and attentive, of good character, stable and responsible. They were not found guilty in Ezekiel's death
The Justice found that the Stephans were guilty of endangering the life of Ezekiel on March 12th as a result of not taking him in to see a doctor. He found that a day later the swelling in his brain resulted breathing cessation and then cardiac arrest.
It is important to note that in a case that has over six weeks of evidence, the most emotionally significant evidence is the evidence that will likely be remembered. As such, Judges and Jurys often do not place the weight they should on the often dry and stark medical records. It is for this reason that we believe evidence relied on to come to the conclusions was contradictory to the paramedics report, CT scans, radiologist report, 911 call transcripts and findings of fact.
Although I have found over 35 such items in the findings of fact, these are the most obvious and easy to compare. Please feel free to view the full text copy of the judgement below.
David and Collet Stephan Final Judgement Unedited
Lethbridge Alberta, June 2016
The David and Collet Stephan case may be the most controversial case Southern Alberta has ever seen. Claims of censored evidence, illegally obtained evidence, withheld evidence, illegal oath swearing and just about any other trick that could be used to manipulate a jury and secure a verdict were abundant. For all intents and purposes it appeared those who witnessed the trial that there was a common consensus and collusion between the Trial Judge, Crown Prosecutors and the Medical Examiner.
Within the first week of trial key evidence was challenged based on its merit and legality. Statements taken after the parents had been awake for over 42 hours, traumatized, and highly influenced in their conclusions about what happened to their son were admitted into court. This was in-spite of the fact that the parents were never read their rights, told that they should seek legal advice before making a statement or arrested and charged by the investigating officer.
Screen shot of preliminary transcript
For the next almost 4 weeks, a string of doctors were paraded in front of the Jury and were asked to describe what the hypothetical state of Ezekiel must have been, based on the Autopsy report.
Falsified Autopsy report was a key piece of evidence used to prosecute the Stephans
Other issues arose over oath swearing, an illegal practice of having multiple people parade in front of the court and enter the same evidence over and over again. Then there was a falsified statement by an attending physician who contradicted not only his own report but also all of the other medical professionals who had attended to Ezekiel. These were especially damaging given the fact that a Jury does not know how to recognize game play in the court room.
It was during the one week break in the trial that things began to unravel for the prosecution. A commentor on the Prayers for Ezekiel facebook page mentioned an article on the CBC website where a medical examiner had been fired for blowing the whistle on Alberta Justice for repeatedly requesting that she alter Autopsy reports where officers or Alberta Health Services were involved in situations that could leave them liable. Read about it here -> http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/anny-sauvageau-makes-more-allegations-of-wrongdoing-in-medical-examiner-s-office-1.2986998
Within days, contact was made and the Stephans had arranged for Dr. Sauvageau to look through the file. It only took hours before Dr. Sauvageau began to find discrepancies between the medical evidence and the report. One of the most glaring of which was an Xray that had not been released in disclosure. Sure enough when the Xray was examined it became apparent as to the reason for holding it back. The X-ray directly contradicted the entire premise of the Autopsy report findings.
The Autopsy claimed Ezekiel had died from pneumonia that developed into a Right plural Empyema that morphed into bacterial meningitis. There was no pneumonia or Empyema when Ezekiel entered the hospital. Further to this there was a complete lack of hemorrhaging on his brain which could not be the case if he had died from brain swelling.
The crowns woes began to pile up when the medical report ignored the fact that the attending paramedic testified of a lack of life saving equipment in his ambulance as a result of government cut backs. He testified that Ezekiel was as a result without oxygen for 8.5 minutes. This amount of time would likely cause brain death.
Whats worse is the fact that information on the 911 call would lead us to believe that if David and Collet had skipped the ambulance and gone directly to the hospital Ezekiel would have lived and likely experienced 100% recovery.
911 call transcripts showing that Ezekiel was asphyxiating and that air from his mothers CPR was getting through
Further evidence showed that a slap on the back had resulted in Ezekiel coughing up mucus and breathing again.
These new facts would deal a devastating blow to the crowns case if they didn't act fast.
ScreenShot of three paragraphs of the second medical examiners report which pointed out evidence that directly contradicted the autopsy report
In light of this the crown prosecutor determined to have Dr. Sauvageau censored and disallowed her to speak on certain topics that she is considered to be an expert on. Dr. Sauvageau has testified in over 300 cases for Alberta Justice and was always allowed to access her notes. In this trial she was denied access to her notes and was censored in what she could say and what questions she was allowed to answer. Dr. Sauvageau was not allowed to take copies of evidence and was only allowed to testify on what she saw.
At the end of the trial the jury was not able to see the exonerating evidence and the Stephans were found guilty.Only after the guilty verdict were the Stephans able to acquire copies of the xray report and other evidence that should have been included in the disclosure.