Investigators congratulated one another after they left a Calgary courtroom. After years of work, Emil and Rodica Radita were guilty of first-degree murder.
The couple was immediately given an automatic life in prison sentence with no chance of parole, for the role they played in the death of their son, 15 year old Alex Radita.
The younger Radita was diagnosed at an early age with diabetes.
Justice Karen Horner spent the better part of an hour going over Alex’s extensive history with British Columbia Children’s Services and how his parents repeatedly ignored the orders of doctors in how to treat Alex’s disease.
There was even a brief time when they had lost custody of their son. Not long after being reunited, they relocated to northwest Calgary.
It was EMS paramedic Deborah Baumback who testified as to some of the more gruesome details in the case.
“When she and her team arrived and entered the home, there was a large number of men and women in the living room chanting, but not in a language she could understand. Her team made their way upstairs to the bedroom where Alex was. She described him as emaciated to the point where he appeared “mummified”. His face had no visible flesh left and his left jaw had open sores so deep she could see his jaw bone,” Horner wrote in her decision.
“There was nothing left of his stomach as he was just so extraordinarily skinny. She estimated his waist line to be approximately three inches. He was dressed in a diaper and a t-shirt. His eyes were open. He was not breathing.”
Later in an autopsy, doctors found the teen’s appearance to be skeletal, his eyes sunken with teeth rotted to the gum line, his emaciated appearance not attributable to a post mortem process.
Doctor Gofton was able to conclude that Alex died from bacterial sepsis. He was also a victim of neglect, given his 40 plus bed sores and large neck wound.
It was his opinion that it would have taken weeks for Alex to get to the point where he died, and — given his medical history in British Columbia — this had been going on for years.
He couldn’t give a precise time of death, but felt he had been dead for 24 to 36 hours before paramedics arrived.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt on the whole of the evidence that each of the accused had the requisite intent to commit murder,” Horner wrote. “They knew as they watched Alex waste away that the cause was their mismanagement of his insulin, and therefore he was not getting the nutrition he required to survive, and they knew without medical care he would die as he almost had before. Knowing all of this they persisted in their conduct.”
“It is also clear that without Alex’s confinement, the Raditas would not have been able to carry out their plans to provide Alex with less and less insulin until they provided none, or to withhold medical care until he was dead. His confinement and murder are part of a single transaction even though it took place over a period of many months and years.”
Crown attorney Susan Pepper applauded the decision, speaking with reporters after the verdict.
“This was a really difficult case for all involved. The facts that Justice Horner found were such that you really did see the magnitude of Alex’s suffering, how long it was and how extensive it was, and this verdict reflects the magnitude of that suffering and the magnitude of the crime that was committed.”
Pepper says in this case, you saw in some respects the best of the social safety net and the worst, and how the system was able to fail Alex.
“I would say that it failed him in two key respects. The first is that he had an extensive history in British Columbia. Not withstanding that, when the family moved to Alberta there was no communication between the provinces. so no one in Alberta knew he had almost died on at least one occasion. The second thing I would say in terms of how the system failed him has to do with education. He registered in a home schooling program in 2009, or his family did, and in 2010 he was removed from that program without having done any work.”
She cracked with emotion as she talked about how difficult the case has been, telling reporters no one knew he was even here and it would be naive to think there aren’t other children in the same position elsewhere.
“As good as our system is, it should be better. This shouldn’t happen,” she said. “He lived and he died very much alone.”