Two religious extremists and anti-medicine quacks were recently convicted for first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for killing their son Alexandru Radita. He had type 1 diabetes, but was kept isolated and refused medical treatment while the parents knew he had a life-threatening medical condition. When he died, he was down to 37 pounds and had dozens of ulcers all over his body. The parents have now decided to appeal the conviction, claiming they did nothing wrong. This is a chilling example of the dangers and terribly misguided self-righteousness of extremist pseudoscience.
Who was Alex Radita?
Alexandru Radita was a 15-year-old boy who died of complications to type 1 diabetes. His parents had kept him locked up at home and prevented him from attending school, refused to give him treatment and refused to seek medical attention. Essentially, they tortured and starved him to death. They even went so far as to either deny the existence of type 1 diabetes or claim that the insulin treatment gave Alex type 1 diabetes. When he died, Alex weighed just 37 pounds (~16.8 kg) and appeared so weak and malnourished that the paramedics stated that he looked almost mummified. His body had over 40 separate ulcers and his neck muscles where “near total liquefaction” and his teeth were “rotten to stumps”.
Why did the parents do this? They were religious extremists who denied modern medicine. They bought into dangerous conspiracy theories and even systematically tried to avoid the authorities, the school system and social services by moving to another province in Canada. At one point, they were stripped of custody and Alex got placed in foster care, got to go to school and got insulin. He was getting better. However, after a year, a judge gave back custody to the parents despite the fact that the social worker had uncovered evidence that the parents had a previous child who had died under unclear circumstances. The last hope for Alex was gone. A decade later, he was dead.
Parents sentenced to life in prison
Both parents were convicted for first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in early 2017. They have to spend at least 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole. It took four years from the year that Alex was killed to the year that the conviction happened. Justice was finally reached, but obviously much too late for Alex. Thankfully, the other children of the couple will now be saved from their dangerous extremism and anti-medicine quackery. There are many lessons that can be drawn from this.
First, the social safety net and social services needs to be improved by boosting the communication and cooperation between different Canadian provinces so that child abusers and other criminals cannot just move to a new province to avoid the authorities. This should not be that hard to make a reality. Just expand certain systems to cover the entire nations or make a national database. Or just improve communications. The judge should have heard the evidence provided by the social worker instead of ignoring it. There needs to be much more awareness and knowledge of this kind of extreme mistreatment in the criminal justice system. Finally, the school system completely failed. No one discovered that Alex just disappeared. Children should not be able to just disappear from schools.
Read more about this terrible series of events in the article Extremist Quacks Get Life Sentences For Murdering Their Diabetic Son previously published here on Debunking Denialism and the references therein.
Parents appeal by accusing the judge of crying
Needless to say, the parents were not at all happy with being convicted of first degree murder and being sentenced to life in prison. Instead, they expected to be cleared of all wrongdoing. This is truly bizarre. Despite all this time and despite all the evidence, they refuse to admit that they kept their son isolated, denied him life-saving medical treatment and caused his death. Predictably, they both appealed their conviction.
The first appeal came from the mother. She submitted it in handwriting and made two claims. The first claim was that the judge was biased in this case because she allegedly cried during the closing arguments and when reading the decision. CBC Calgary reporter writes that the judge seemed “emotional when reading her decision, it was unclear if she was crying”. It also seems completely irrelevant, since this claim by the mother is just a thinly veiled personal attack, since the mother cannot point out any specific case in the judgement that was supposedly based on emotion instead of facts and legal reasoning. The second claim states that the judge called her arguments nonsensical when they were supposedly based on evidence and that this further shows bias. Yet there is no detailed discussion of what those claims were or an evaluation of the actual evidential or legal arguments made by the judge. It merely looks like it is a desperate rationalization in order to make the judge appear biased, because the mother cannot make any coherent objection to the actual evidence or arguments presented by the prosecutor.
The father later appealed the conviction as well just one day before the deadline. He called the decision “unreasonable” and that “The trial judge erred in fact and in law by disregarding evidence and submissions” made by the defense.
There are no dates set for the appeal trial.
What might happen?
What will be the outcome of such a trial? Will the parents be able to be cleared? That seems exceptionally unlikely. Could they get their sentence reduced? Possibly, but also quite unlikely because of the strength of the evidence in this case. But convicted criminals have the right to submit an appeal, so this case will have to be dragged through the court system for several more months. Most quacks who harm people never get caught or convicted, so there is relief that these parents will probably never be able to harm another child ever again.
This is a chilling case of child abuse and one of the best case studies to reach for when quacks and other pseudoscience activists reach for the “What’s the harm?” trope. This is the harm with quackery.