RCMP officers were on hand as about 50 people gathered in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Wednesday to protest after a man charged with second-degree murder in the death of his infant son was granted bail.
One-year-old Ares Starrett died on Nov. 23, 2019, days after his first birthday. His father, Damien Starrett, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death.
“He was the sweetest little boy. He was giving hugs and kisses before he was even five months old. He could climb the stairs by the time he was nine months old. He never cried; he was just an overall happy-go-lucky baby,” Ares’ mom, Ashton Bishop, said.
Bishop said she learned late last week that Starrett was granted bail. Court documents show bail was granted on April 3, but Global News has not been able to confirm if he has been released.
She says she wasn’t allowed in the courtroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t even know what justification they gave,” Bishop said.
“It’s a really crappy feeling. I feel like my daughter’s safety, my safety… nobody else’s safety or thoughts were even considered.
“I just want everything to end; it’s a constant roller-coaster.”
After posting her concerns to Facebook, community members planned a protest outside of the Fort Saskatchewan home where Starrett is expected to stay.
“It’s extremely heartwarming,” Bishop said. “I love it here, and I don’t want to feel like I should have to leave for our safety, and even if we wanted to go anywhere, we are stuck because of COVID-19.”
READ MORE: ‘His life has been threatened’ — Fort Saskatchewan man charged in baby son’s death requests transfer.
About 50 people came on Wednesday night, some holding pictures of the baby, many holding signs reading “Justice for Ares.”
Tracy Patrick has two young children and felt the need to come out to support the family.
“This has affected me in a way I never expected. I didn’t know them personally, but being that Fort Sask. really isn’t that big, it really shook everyone to its core,” Patrick said.
A rally was also held on Monday with a much smaller crowd. About 10 Fort Saskatchewan RCMP officers were present at both protests.
“We wanted to make sure the public was safe, as they wanted to exercise their right of freedom speech and to protest. Given the COVID[-19] crisis, we wanted to we educated everybody about physical and social distancing,” Sgt. Mike McCreedy said.
Starrett was also charged with assaulting his other young child.
According to court documents, Starrett has a lengthy criminal history dating back a decade. His convictions, the latest of which was in 2012, [in other words he has had no problems for the last 8 years] include assault, careless driving, possession of a controlled substance, mischief to property under $5,000, tampering with a motor vehicle, attempting to obstruct justice with a bribe and a number of breaches of probation. [Why would a journalist include this list, which reads more like a list of juvenile misdemeanors than a “lengthy criminal history” – in this story? SSRI Ed.]
Damien’s Story in his own words:
I would like to get my story out, I believe it can save lives and bring more awareness to these drugs that the doctors are prescribing unaware patients.
I know that there’s a small percentage of people that have severe reactions when they are on them and also when they come off. Unfortunately I’m one of those people that now have to suffer the rest of there lives with the consequences.
It was just a normal Saturday, I stayed at home watching the children while my fiancé (we got engaged that summer on top of Signal Hill in Newfoundland. Her whole family was there after Ashtons mom and I figured out a plan to get her whole family to go there – we told them it was for a family picture. As Ashton’s mom counted down 3-2-1 I went down on one knee with my daughter and my son beside me. That was the best moment of my life.)
Because Ashton works a split shift every Saturday and Sunday she let me try to sleep in because I had so much trouble sleeping. I’d been suffering every day with this creepy-crawling sensation that was pure torture. I couldnt ever lie down longer than 30 seconds or my body felt like I didnt belong in it. I went doctors at least one or two times a week because I could never sleep and the creepy-crawling feeling would never go away no matter what I tried.
So she would let me try to sleep in. I would just lay there with my eyes closed. So when she went to work I would just lie there and watch the kids and we’d watch movies. She fed them breakfast and then went to work. And I just did the normal things. When she left that Saturday Ares and I were cuddling on the couch as she came over and kissed me and said she loves me. The next few hours felt like they didnt exist. I fell asleep watching my kids. This only happened once before – a week prior – which was the second time in my life I have ever done that.
When i woke up from what i thought was a nightmare was actually waking up into my new living hell. In this dream of mine i was fighting this shadow person (I dont know if it was even human) it was blacker than night and it threw me around my living room. It had me by holding my arms and spinning me to the right. I can remember I was in my living room but all my furniture was gone, there was no pictures on my wall. My kids weren’t there but the light was there. I had my Christmas tree set up which we set up a few days ago after my son Ares first birthday, a week prior to his passing.
I can remember the white light coming from the corner of where the tree was and it was reflecting off this shadow man’s skin. When i came too i woke up sitting upright on the couch looking at the stairwell. Like waking up from a nightmare, I can even say a night terror. I can remember waking up like I was in a fight with my heart racing. I stood and and my daughter Dahlia was curled up looking at me to my right side, and ill never forget these words for eternity. I asked Dahlia what the fuck just happened, and she said Daddy you hit him, You hit him daddy. I look down to my left and Ares was lying there motionless. I was in complete shock. I never felt so hopeless and helpless in my life. It’s like you’re walking across the road with your loved one and you drop something and when you pick it up your loved one gets hit by a speeding vehicle and dies right there. I’ve never felt so confused.
I didn’t know if it was real or even happening. I did everything i could do to save him, i called ashton , she was first person I called and all she said that I said on the phone was I kept saying Ares is dying you need to come home Ares is dying. I then called the ambulance and emergency services. And by accident my friend Danielle and I called my opa after the ambulance was there. I gave him mouth to mouth CPR while my fiance was giving chest compressions. I did everything I could do.
The last time I ever saw my son again was running behind the EMT screaming please save him.
The police had us all come inside and I’m sitting there on the couch I was soo confused still. I look across from me and there’s Ashton blankly staring at the ground. I was charged for attempted murder and then when I was in the RCMP station I was then re arrested and charged with second degree murder after Ares passed away.
At 7:14pm on nov 23rd 2019, 3 days after I was told to stop my taking all my prescription medications. I had been taking many kinds of antidepressants and antipsychotic medications,TCA, SSRI medications.
From what i thought was an intruder I was fighting to protect my family was actually my family I was fighting. I never learned the details of what I did untill Dec 22nd. I was in jail not knowing all of what happened for a whole month. I can remember everything leading up to my nap. But nothing in between and some things of my nightmare (like the shadow man and the light reflecting off it, and spinning)
From what was told by my daughter was I was sleeping on the couch, she tickled my feet and then I started shaking really bad and I got up and my eyes were rolled to the back of my head and then I attacked her first and hit her 3 times and then I stopped and attacked Ares, who was playing with his toys on the floor doing nothing. After I attacked Ares I went and sat on the couch and sat there still with my eyes rolled up into my head.
When I got out on bail, my bail was 1000$ No cash bail. I went home and I researched for weeks and weeks to find the answers. I already knew that it had something to do with my medications, a week prior to the incident i had fallen asleep outside when I had a cigarette in the middle of winter. I was always sleep deprived because i could never sleep because of what I know now is called akathisia. I fell asleep and burned a bullet-sized hole in my leg with a lit cigarette. And a few days prior to that I fell asleep sitting up in my room at the end of my bed and had a dream I was walking down the street having a cigarette and I lit a cigarette in my sleep in my room. (I kicked my fiancé’s father out of my house we were renting together because i caught him smoking in the house. I was very stern on smoking around my kids)
The moment I became suspicions about the medications causing this all to happen was when a person that was in the same block in max A in the remand center came and slipped a snippet from a sleep medication he found in a national geographic magazine. There I saw all the side effects. The week after I got out of jail I looked and researched every prescribed medication I can remember and went on youtube and searched for cases like mine and I was blown away by how many people have been affected by these medications. I stumbled upon Dr Breggin and I ordered his book “Medication Madness” and that is where I am at in my journey to finding the reason why this all happened. My journey is never going to end until people get the truth and doctors actually realize what there doing to people. What these drugs can do.
It only took me a week to find out why I couldn’t sleep and what was causing my akathisia. In July of 2019 I tried to end my life because I couldn’t bear one more night of the creepy crawling sensations. So I downed a whole bottle of doxepine and and ended up in the ICU at the Royal Alexandria in edmonton on life support for 3 days. Not only after 3 days after I got out of the ICU I was then prescribed more doxepine. I thought that the medication was going to fix me and if i took it all id be fixed or even better than that, dead. While I was in the Edmonton Remand Center an incident happened that forever gave the the truth about how these medications can fuck your brain up.
So I was prescribed doxepin for 2 weeks a few days after i was put in jail. On December 22nd, two days after my last dose of doxepine and i was still struggling with sleep and the akethesia was getting really bad and i can remember it plain as day. I woke up from a nap and when i woke up ashton,my fiance, was naked laying on top of me like we were having sex and it took maybe 10 seconds to realize that she wasnt really there and that im in jail. I can remember she was somewhat see through, better to describe it as in star wars when they have the hologram of princess laia saying obi wan kenobi your our only hope. She looked identical to the that hologram. After that happening i sat and was blown away, i thought i was going crazy. I can remember that day when i was allowed on my 30 minutes of exercise i went to the phone and called rory ziv- my lawyer and said you need to look at the medications and told him what happened. It took up untill beginning of February for the akethesia to fully be gone. Ive never had my creepy crawling sensation ever again. Im able to sleep longer than 2-3 hours a day. I can sleep for 6-12 hours a day no problem. And i can dream now. I didnt have many dreams only the nights where my body gave up and let me sleep. I remember people always asking me why i cant i sleep, i always told them its because im not allowed to, im cursed. My fiance ashton used to rub my back for 1-3 hours a night to try and put me to sleep. You couldnt touch any part of my body but my back, because if you did it would send the most undesirable sensation through my body, i used to be able to sit and read my daughter 1 to two bed time stories a night. By the end of it i couldnt even let her hug me before bed.
I used to blame the universe for my suffering and i sat and thought for days on what the hell did i do in my life to deserve this, and there was nothing. Soo i thought what did i do in my past life to deserve this, and still nothing. I now can sit here with all the information that ive gathered and can now say i didnt do anything, im a victim just like my son ares and my daughter dahlia and my ex fiance. Were victims to a system of un educated doctors prescribing mind altering drugs made by fully aware drug dealers.
I wanted kill myself, i had protesters yelling shit outside my house for weeks, when i was put in prison i was put into solitary confinement. Soo when i was grieving i was locked in a box the size of a bathroom wondering why this had to happen to me and my family. I wrote to my fiance every day i was in there hoping that when i get out she will be there, and she defended me in beginning. With all these protesters putting pressure on her and her mom and sister doing the same. She is now on there side. What really hurts me the most is that she still to this day only knows what i knew that day, the day ares died. She doesnt even know that what i was prescribed wasnt just simple sleep medication ( what i thought since 2014). If she knew that i can sleep longer that 3 hours every night, that i can sleep up to 12 hours i really wanted to. She wouldnt believe you. Ive been prescribed soo many antidepressants since 2014 over and over, i went through 4 doctors 3 gave up on me and the last one destroyed my life. 3 days after i was told to stop all medications cold turkey. If i knew what i know now my life would be soo different, my son would be at daycare right now. I would be at work. My daughter would be in school and my fiance would be almost getting off work to go pick up my dahlia.
I had everything i could ever need, a beautiful family a nice big roof over my head, my nice car I enjoyed going on trips with my family. Awesome friends. Memories.
I had everything taken from me, uncontrollable suffering, a life of sadness. My son Ares, my daughter Dahlia, the love of my life after 7.5 years of beautiful memories.
Why did it only take me a week to figure out what was causing my chronic debilitating insomnia and akathisia and why couldn’t any of the doctors I told since 2014 ever figure it out?
Why was I prescribed the same medication that i just tried to kill myself with?
Why was I being prescribed medications that I’ve already taken before that didn’t work? That’s the definition of insane – doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.
Why wasn’t I told that what I was experiencing (the creepy crawling sensation) was a side effect from the medications?
Why was I being prescribed medications meant for people with bipolar and schizophrenia? I was never diagnosed with any condition.
I was given ritalin and risperdal from the time I was in grade 2 up until high school. Which also costed me my dignity and self esteem after I got gynecomastia from it. I’ve experienced terrible side effects from every psychiatric medication I’ve ever taken. I’ve been a guinea pig most of my life. And now not only do I suffer the consequences of bad decisions and doctors not giving a fuck, but now I have lost my future and my daughter’s future. I have to live with the fact that my hands have caused a great deal of pain, but at least i don’t have to live with a memory of ever hurting my children. That’s what differs me from an actual child killer. I have to live my life being called the baby killer. I have to live my life without my family that I hold so dear to my heart. My daughter is going to need therapy for the rest of her life, shes going to have to grow up missing her brother and her dad. Ashton is going to forever be sad and I know deep down she misses me so much.
I will never give up on the truth, I will never give up on my son, and giving up on the truth would make my son’s life worthless and bring dishonour to his name. This tragedy will be a catalyst for great change, and I will be the one to make it happen. I have a battle in my future. I have to fight for my freedom. I have to fight for the truth, and the biggest motivators are my daughter and to make sure this can never happen again to anyone.
I look and I wonder why did it have to be me and my son and my family. To bear the pain and the torture of losing a child and to have these protesters and society continuously target me with their hate. And to live every day a life like mine. I look at the bigger picture and say to myself – what person can take all that pain a suffering and can still get up and fight with a smile on his face. I dont see anyone that I know of that can endure soo much and live to tell the tale. I say to myself that to kill myself would only bring more pain and will bring no honor to Ares’ life. It would make this all for nothing and the next person will have to deal with all of this in there own life. To make this meaningfull I must put an end to this medication madness. But I need help. I need as much support I can find. Not one man can do this alone.