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By Sarah Komadina
Posted April 9, 2020 1:09 pm Updated April 9, 2020 1:38 pm
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.]