“It was all so similar to when I lost my wife to suicide”
The Defense concluded their case today, having given their opening statement to the Jury on March 23, 2016, breaking for Easter, and returning on April 11th. Defense will give their closing submission to the Jury tomorrow, Friday April 22, 2016.
The first witness to be called by Defense today was Doral Lamar Lybbert. This 60-year-old long time resident of the Glenwood area is the local butcher, farrier (horse shoer), Volunteer Fire Chief, and a registered Emergency Medical Responder (EMR).
He has been an EMR for over 20 years, having obtained his credential through SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). He is trained to get airways in victims two ways: Jaw Thrust and Oropharyngeal. His two sons also staff the emergency responders team, and the Mid River Fire Department (as it’s called in Glenwood) has paramedics that serve with a fully equipped ambulance.
When asked what Chief Lybbert remembers about the events of March 13, 2012, two things remain with him. First, when hearing about the emergency that took place on the evening of the 13th, he was surprised they didn’t get the 911 dispatches. He explained how close the Hall is to where the Stephan’s lived, and how the parents drove within a half-block of the ambulance. The Chief testified their ambulance had the full assortment of items necessary to have established Ezekiel’s airway.
Chief Lybbert’s second recall was of how he had seen little Ezekiel running around and playing in church (as best he could recall) Sunday before the emergency took place. They all attended the same church when the Stephan’s lived in the area. The Chief testified Ezekiel seemed happy and healthy.
Under cross-examination the Crown asked a series of questions that were meant to build their proposition that as volunteers ‘they can’t be as reliable as full time emergency responders; ‘because butchers and horse shoeing take time away from the hall’. The Chief assured the court that they keep a radio on their hips or tailgates to answer any dispatch they receive. The Crown, not satisfied, pursued the idea that getting all dirty with their jobs must mean having to change before they could answer a call. The Chief agreed that yes they sometimes are out in the rural community getting dirty and would have to change, but that they were available that evening. When asked how he could be certain with so much horse shoeing to be done, Chief Lybbert informed the court that Tuesday night is fire training night. They were at the fire hall March 13, 2012.
The second witness was Keith McIntosh, the Registered Nurse from the Bigelow Fowler Clinic. He was subpoenaed to testify to the truthfulness of a medical record from 2011. This was a record that was generated by a doctor who had seen Ezra Stephan after a naturopath, Dr. Tannis, had referred him to have his earwax purged. The value of this evidence is that it supports the testimony of Collet, who testified that she would have taken Ezekiel to see an MD had she been directed, as in the past, to do so from Dr. Tannis. It also supports Collet’s assertion she is not adverse to medical doctors. The Crown had nothing confuting to ask this witness.
Last to be called in the Defense case was Anthony Stephan (Tony), the father of David, and grandfather to Ezekiel. Mr. Stephan has raised 13 children, has 44 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. If anyone could qualify as an expert reasonably prudent parent, Grandpa Stephan could. However, no such qualifying has ever been done, and likely not possible to be done.
As a result, Tony was confined by ‘Crownus Interuptus’ as they sought to ensure his testifying be only what he observed through his tangible senses. No credible weight was verbally permitted as to what this experienced parent / grandparent perceived. But, the Jury heard and saw this father of 13 children speak in and out of the allowable zone. His song could not be unsung. He could not comment on his past history of raising kids in the context of any opinion pertaining to Ezekiel’s “a little low energy but overall he was fine” health and wellbeing (oops). He stated his grandson was not fevered, coughing, or pus eyed, and seemed fine (oops). He had no runny nose or visible sign of concern, and appeared to be ok (oops). “Ezekiel was crawling on the bed when I went in to him, and he recognized me” (oops). “I sat on the edge of the bed for about 10 minutes”, and “he seemed like a normal child, just a little lethargic (oops). Grandpa picked him up, put him on his knee, and he squirmed as usual “because he didn’t want to be on my lap”(oops). “Ezekiel always played strange and was shy”. When Defense asked Tony to comment on Ezekiel’s signs of awareness, Grandpa commented that yes, his eyes were open, he tussled, and, “…he was aware of what was going on”(oops again). When asked if Tony made any recommendations to David and Collet concerning Ezekiel, Tony answered: No, he could see no concerns.
They (Grandpa and father) prayed over Ezekiel and sought God’s blessing, which involved a laying on of hands. Grandpa gave Ezekiel to David, and they went back to meeting on the business issues he had come out to discuss. Mr. Stephan testified he had been out there for likely an hour, and then left to return to his home. They spoke again the next day on those business issues, and Grandpa asked how Ezekiel was doing. Tony said “David told me he was doing well, even pulling on his beard”. They did not speak again until the emergency that evening.
When Tony got the call regarding Ezekiel’s respiratory arrest, he was shocked because Ezekiel showed no signs of alarm the evening before. Him and Barbara (Tony’s second wife) rushed to the Cardston Hospital 30 minutes from their home. They arrived before the ambulance, waited for 20 minutes, then witnessed the emergency commotion once Ezekiel did arrive. It was stressful and puzzling. Tony testified of how the EMT wept: “We weren’t able to intubate”.
The time at the Alberta Children’s Hospital was hard on Tony; he observed David and Collet in a terrible state. They were fatigued and in shock, and “up doing a lot of interviewing”. They looked “wore out, very tired, and emotionally distraught”. Tony’s composure broke when he recalled how similar these days and nights were to when he lost his wife to suicide. The Crown abruptly interrupted his tender confession with a cold objection. Another oops. Tony spoke of how he had met Mr. Beauford, “a nice man”, the RCMP Constable who interviewed David and Collet.
The court recessed for lunch as the Crown decided if they would cross-examine Grandpa. They chose not to.