The courtroom was aghast when defense counsel asked investigating pathologist Dr. Adeagbo if anyone from his office had interviewed David & Collett Stephan. After a long pause the doctor asked: “Who is David & Collett Stephan”?

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The Crown called their expert witness today, Dr. Adeagbo, who is the pathologist that performed the forensic autopsy on Ezekiel. Dr. Adeagbo is an Assistant Chief Medical Examiner. He is highly qualified in his medical education and specialty, which is forensic pathology: the science of interpreting evidence to provide a knowledgeable opinion as to the cause of injury or death. While he has over 5000 death exams to his name, interpretation and opinion is all that can be said to describe his testimony today. For the record, it is important for objective readers to know that Dr. Adeagbo is employed by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. The same Ministry that employs the Crown Prosecutors who are prosecuting David and Collett Stephan. It is also Alberta Justice who would only make Dr. Adeagbo available for one day of examination, cross-examination, and re-examination.

The Crown took almost the entire regular court day to introduce and present their witness (examine), and left the defense little time and energy to cross-examine. The court went on until after 9 pm. Some would consider this a tactic by Alberta Justice to fatigue the jury and the defense counsel, and hamper a proper examination of the Doctor’s interpretations and opinions.

After he was sworn in and his CV read aloud, the court accepted his credentials as an expert in his field. The Crown asked for his overview of the story pertaining to Ezekiel’s death. He was free speaking using the details the Crown asserts led up to Ezekiel’s death as though they are facts (facts that are in question in this trial); just another way the prosecutors have attempted to establish as truth what has not yet been proven to the jury. He gave a lengthy rendition of his autopsy findings, which had a visible effect on the jury. Because of the continual use of the word pus to describe the substance on the exterior of the right lung’s bottom lobe, and the lining of the brain (the meninges), the sympathy for this young child grew to a countenance that was filled with disgust over such an appalling condition.

When the defense finally got to cross-examine the doctor, he became less free with his answers as he had been with the Crown. Instead, he became argumentative and would avoid or forestall the answers to the questions asked by defense counsel. It is certain to have been obvious to the jury he was warding off penetrations into his interpretations and opinions. As a result of the continual attempt to “pin the tail on the jackass”, defense counsel was cautioned during one of the raised objections by the Crown that the answers the doctor was giving, while not aligned with the questions asked, may be all that the defense was going to get. “You know how expert witnesses can be”, said the Judge.

Most of this academic averting was specific to contradictions between what the doctor testified to in the Preliminary findings, to what he was testifying in trial today. Dr. Adeagbo had earlier testified under oath that the cause of Ezekiel’s death could have been the result of several factors. Today however, he insisted on just one: Meningitis. In the Prelim, the doctor testified that Ezekiel’s brain death could have been the result of the 7-8 minutes of oxygen starvation he experienced when the EMS arrived ill equipped to intubate an 18-month-old child. Today, the doctor embellished his previous answers with several long and complex jargonistic lectures that would dull even the sharpest mind. As a result, in his professional opinion the contradictions were nothing more than variations of the same factual interpretations. In a nutshell – his evidence is less clear and to some looking more and more contrived to fit the prosecutor’s case. Remember Alberta Justice employs them both.

That being said, here are several facts the doctor shared today that he didn’t obfuscate:

  1. Viruses, bacteria and fungi are all around and in our bodies. We are all under constant attack
  2. Symptoms of meningitis are inconsistent and may manifest or not. They may vary and even wane or disappear.
  3. Many diseases manifest as similar symptoms
  4. Sometimes the only indication of meningitis is found through laboratory proof
  5. Viruses and bacteria did not cause Ezekiel to die – a disease did
  6. Sometimes a viral infection can compromise the immune system making way for or enabling a bacterial infection that could lead to disease
  7. There is no way to pinpoint the time of Ezekiel’s infection or the time it took to progress to the state discovered in autopsy
  8. The pathology could not determine the type of bacterial infection on the outside of Ezekiel’s right lung, or the type of Haemophilus influenzae: A, B, C, D, E, F, or the unknown number of types that have morphed beyond classification. This means Ezekiel may have had an extremely aggressive form leading to a rapid progression of meningitis.
  9. There was no sign that Ezekiel was immune-compromised
  10. There were viruses in Ezekiel’s nose and throat consistent with the earlier suspected case of croup
  11. Spinal taps are the only way to determine certain types of meningitis but are not to be taken lightly because of the potential complications such as bleeding, infection, severe pain and even paralysis. Parental reluctance is understandable especially if symptoms are waning
  12. There is no way to determine if Ezekiel would have benefited from earlier or any of the treatments for meningitis especially because of the unidentified form. Many die even with aggressive treatment. Treatments can and do fail
  13. The pus was too thick to have allowed antibiotics to have penetrated the infection
  14. Even if Ezekiel went to the doctor with croup symptoms, there is no way of identifying meningitis clinically, or preventing with certainty his death
  15. Although Ezekiel’s right lung was infected, it is very possible that it wouldn’t have been apparent until discovered during autopsy