Today In Court – Friday April 15, 2016

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“I love being a mom”

Collet Dawn Stephan: Graduated high school in Brooks, Alberta in 1998, and went on to Medicine Hat to study accounting before she set her sights on becoming a commercial pilot. She was in flight school from 2000-2002, and continued on with training up to 2005. She is close to achieving her commercial ratings. Collet is the mother of Ezra (eight), Ephraim (three), Enoch (one), and of course, the mother of Ezekiel (deceased). Collet has no criminal record.

When these facts were read out to the court this morning by Defense counsel, Collet smiled when her children were mentioned. Asked why, she answered warmly: “I love being a mom”.

Defense took Collet through a series questions about the health history of both her sons, prior to February 27, 2012. We learned that they could be expected to have two colds or bouts of flu each per year. That the typical durations were two to seven days. Collet explained that it is common for her to take her children to bed with her when they are sick. It is also common for them to take more than their regular one nap per day when they are down with a cold or flu. In fact, she sees to it that they do. Mom said she had never experienced croup with her children prior to Monday, February 27, 2012.

Collet took the court through the first signs of Ezekiel’s cold and croup that Monday in 2012. He had been well the previous weeks, even attending church the day before. She took him to their regular Parent Preschool, which she outlined as a fun and educational day for both parents and their children; with shared activities and unattached times so that moms get time to interact with moms, and kids develop independence away from mom’s side. There are lots of kids, and lots of moms, and lots of songs, toys and snacks for all. It was such a wholesome activity, that she continued to drive the 150 kilometer round trip when her and David moved to the Glenwood area.

Collet called David when preschool was over that day as usual to let him know he could come and pick them up. She reminded him they had some running around to do in Lethbridge, and it is then, on the phone, that she mentioned to David that she could tell Ezekiel was coming down with a cold. While not normally a big deal in the lives of parents, this however, has become the starting line of the excessively criminological race by the Crown to establish their theory of a languishing illness.

Ezekiel’s Monday concluded with an increase in cold symptoms with the addition of a wheezing breathing-sound. By Tuesday, he had developed a fever of 100F, noisy breathing, and a barking cough. Collet contacted her friend Terry, the birth attendant and emergency room RN, to question what she thought it could be. Terry referred her to her own experiences with “croup”, and suggested he’d likely get over it soon. She also suggested cool fresh air as a good remedy to lesson the inflammation of the windpipe. This, Terry testified, was effective with her own children. On one occasion sufficiently reducing this symptom in her child while en route to see a physician.

Collet was in Lethbridge with David and the boys that Tuesday, and while David ran into the grocery store, Collet looked up croup online and learned it was a viral infection. She learned it was rarely serious, and that a steroid shot is used in “extreme cases” to reduce the inflammation. While breathing is noisy and characterized by a “seal like” cough, it’s a common childhood disease. It is often accompanied by fever and runny nose. The sound played on mom’s sympathies to the point where she texted Terry saying it “was killing her”. Of course Collet was speaking figuratively. As she said, “I was twenty weeks pregnant and a little emotional”.

Ezekiel responded well to the cool fresh air provided by a lowered window in their SUV while driving home. They continued to provide fresh cool air at home by sitting Ezekiel on mom’s lap by an open window. They cuddled together beneath a warm blanket. They also had Ezekiel go into the sauna with dad. David would put water on the hot stones to make a moist warm environment to sooth Ezekiel. Collet was pregnant with Ephraim at the time, and couldn’t handle the heat. Although, she would try to replicate the same with running a hot shower for short periods when David was away that week. This continued on into Wednesday, and is characterized as the worst exhibit of symptoms in the two-week period leading up to the 911 calls.

In addition to the cold air and steam, Collet began adding into his daily smoothies olive leaf extract and MSM ( the add-ons). This, in their belief, was to assist Ezekiel’s immune system fight off this croup-virus, and reduce inflammation. And it worked. By Thursday the add-ons were not necessary, as his symptoms had abated. By Friday, Ezekiel was well and back kicking his soccer ball; something he had recently learned to do. Ezekiel went to church that weekend with his family as usual, including as Collet said, “running down the isle in the gym to play with other kids and his brother”. And so ended his first bout of croup, and the first week of the Crown’s theory of parental failure. Ezekiel went to parent preschool the following Monday. Collet rejected the subsequent doctors reports that had David claiming the week to be difficult for Ezekiel. David was away three days that week.

Monday morning had a normal start to the day: morning smoothies with fruit, real juice, protein powder, EMPowerplus, Omega 3,6,9, and a lot of love for the whole family. A typical routine, on a typical day.

Preschool was fun, and Ezekiel hung around with mom as he normally did, sitting on her lap with books until he wanted to play with toys. In Dr. D’Mello’s rendition of events, this is the day Ezekiel first starts solid foods since developing croup. Collet rejected her reporting, siting the facts that he went to church and was active on Sunday, and went to preschool this Monday with energy to run and play. Not something a child can do without eating.

On Tuesday, March 6th, Collet thinks that maybe she allowed Ezekiel too much activity too soon after overcoming his croup-viral infection and cold. This is the day that mom noticed Ezekiel pulling on his diaper twice. She checked his diaper for clues i.e. rash, pinching, maybe even a toy? Collet said it was the only occurrence, and seemingly an unsuspecting moment in the life of a toddler. However, when in the Children’s Hospital a week later, with Ezekiel on life support, having no sleep and feeling absolutely exhausted from the trauma and anxiety over her son’s life, Collet was asked for clues of anything, “anything”, that was seizure related. She hadn’t seen any seizures. Dr. Gamble however, suggested that seizures could be disguised as seemingly normal repetitive movements. As Collet searched her memory for clues, the only thing she could recall was a diaper pull. This soon became propagated into the minds of other doctors and even Collet, as she now became one of the carriers of this very serious and infectious neurological idea. When asked in trial if such involuntary seizures as was reported happened twice (two diaper pulls), and never presented again, would those likely be seizures? Dr. Gamble agreed: “Not likely”. But it was written into the narrative used to charge these parents.

Also rejected by Collet are the notions that Ezekiel would “just lay in bed and moan when his mother left the room”, and the word “starvation” being suggested as something Collet was concerned about. Remember, the reports are rehydrated into a narrative several days after the interviews are condensed into short hand notes. The parents are never asked to read and verify the truthfulness or accuracy of the contents. Aside from cleaning their hands to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, perhaps doctors should clean up their reports to prevent infectious ideas becoming facts in a criminal trial.

To be continued…
Due to the length of the reporting details over the last two days, we will post this much, and conclude the balance tomorrow.