High security in Fort Sask. as neighbours protest bail release for accused baby killer
EDMONTON -- About two dozen people gathered outside of a house in Fort Saskatchewan Monday night to protest after bail was granted to a local man accused of killing his baby son.
Several neighbours confirmed the home belongs to family members of Damien Christopher Starrett, 30, of Fort Saskatchewan.
Starrett was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his one-year-old son Ares in November. He was also charged with assaulting another child.
John MacEachern, of the group Home Safe Every Night, organized the protest. He said Ares' family informed him Starrett received bail and was set to be released Monday.
"I think it’s ridiculous. It just proves that our justice system is a joke," MacEachern said.
On Tuesday, Alberta Justice confirmed Starrett was granted bail on April 3. The conditions and date of his bail release we’re not provided.
He was scheduled to appear in a Fort Saskatchewan court again on April 9.
MacEachern said he believes Starrett’s release was likely delayed because of his protest.
On Monday as many as 10 RCMP officers guarded the home on 82 Street and 93 Avenue.
"Obviously a baby being beat to death by anyone, let alone a parent, had quite an affect on everybody," MacEachern said.
"For four months later, the chance of him being released on bail on $1,000 surety, obviously touched a nerve with Fort Saskatchewan," he added.
Neighbour Mike Graham said he already showed his kids photos of Starrett and warned them to stay away from the accused.
"Little bit of anger, fear for the kids," Mike Graham said of his reaction to the bail approval.
Graham said even though he did not want Starrett across the street, there was nothing he could do to stop it.
"If I do anything then I’ll be put away and my kids won’t have a father. I know what I’d like to do," Graham said.
When asked to clarify what that meant, he responded, "Same as a lot of people, I think, take it in their own hands.”
But MacEachern said violence of any kind was not his goal. He wanted to pressure officials to either keep Starrett in jail, or have him released to a halfway house somewhere else.
"We’re not disturbing the peace. We’re not breaking any laws. We don’t have pitchforks and torches," MacEachern said.
An RCMP officer said they were there to keep the peace and encourage protesters to adhere to COVID-19 physical distancing recommendations.
Protesters stayed spread out on both sides of the house. Several neighbours came out to watch. It ended without any arrests.
CTV News Edmonton rang the doorbell of the home involved. A man responded over an intercom, saying only, "No comment, thank you."