A young Calgary couple has finally been sentenced to thirty-two months in prison and a weapons prohibition after a long 5-year investigation and trial surrounding the death of their fourteen-month-old son.
The verdict was announced by Judge Paul Jeffrey at the Calgary court house on June 5, 2019, though Jennifer and Jeromie Clark were found guilty by a jury last fall. Last year the Clarks faced charges of failing to provide the necessities of life and criminal negligence causing death.
The Crown prosecutor, Jennifer Crews, was asking for 4 to 5 years on the basis that these were, mature and experienced parents.
“The crown prosecution accepts that they loved their son and had no intention to hurt him,” said Crews in the courtroom on May 31, 2019 during a trial. “These individuals knew what they were doing and for John, it was fatal.”
The situation started back in 2013, when John Clark was taken to a hospital after two weeks for what the parent’s thought was an allergic reaction and inflamed eczema. The medical examiner later found that the cause of death was from a staph infection complicated by malnutrition.
The Clarks were 7 Day Adventists, a family with the influence of religion all around them, even when it came to their diets and healthcare. The court room was filled throughout the trial with supporters from their congregation.
“I don’t see how this case will deter citizens from doing what they think is right.” said David Chow, the defense lawyer for Jeromie.
The defense argued on the basis that the Clarks were doing everything they thought was right to help their son, which included looking for alternative ways of medicine and holding off on the doctors. The Clarks are also first-time offenders, so the defense presented the situation as an honest mistake rather than one of conscience, despite the Clarks having two older children.
“He did not recognize the seriousness of Johns position,” said defense lawyer Chow. “This is a person who does admit responsibility for John.”
The defense lawyers were asking for a much more lenient sentence however, one at the very minimum. They didn’t believe the Clarks needed separation and eventually integration from and back into society.
In the end, the Judge decided on the 2-and-a-half-year sentence with a weapons prohibition, saying that the Clarks abused their position of power as parents over little John.
“I share the crowns comments from Friday, you loved John and didn’t intend to hurt him,” said Judge Jeffrey to the worried looking Clarks at the stand. “[However], a short sentence does not adequately fit.”
The judge pointed out to the Clarks that grief is not a collateral consequence for them, but rather the fact that their son is gone and they will have to endure that pain longer while in prison.
“A period of incarceration is necessary to deter others.” said Judge Jeffrey to the courtroom before announcing the 32-month sentence for the Clarks. The Clarks were taken straight to prison after the decision and a hug from their parents.