Not-criminally-responsible defense to be entered in Fort Saskatchewan baby death trial

WARNING: Some of the details in this article are graphic and disturbing.

On Friday, the defense lawyer for the Fort Saskatchewan father accused of killing his infant son said he will argue his client is not criminally responsible.

A publication ban that previously prevented media from reporting involved parties’ names and showing their photos has now been lifted.

READ MORE: Fort Saskatchewan father on trial for killing infant son, assaulting young daughter

Damien Starrett, 30, was watching his two children at the family’s Fort Saskatchewan home while their mother was at work in November 2019.

Court heard his son, one-year-old Ares Starrett, died from a head injury caused by blunt force trauma.

Fort Saskatchewan RCMP are investigating the death of one-year-old Ares Starrett. Credit: Facebook

Starrett’s daughter, whose identity remains under publication ban, told a police investigator at the Zebra Centre he also punched her three times in the head.

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Starrett is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his one-year-old son and is also charged with assaulting his young daughter.

READ MORE: Young daughter testifies in father’s Fort Saskatchewan murder trial

After testimony from both the mother and daughter last week, this week Starrett’s lawyer asked the judge to declare a mistrial after the jury was shown photos of the dead baby, taken in the hospital.

He argued they would unfairly prejudice the jury.

Damien Christopher Starrett, 30, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his one-year-old son. Credit: Facebook

But the judge dismissed that application, saying the photos were valid evidence, helping the medical examiner with his testimony.

Then, lawyer Rory Ziv asked for the jury itself to be removed and for the judge alone to try the case.

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The Crown agreed, so the jurors were let go.

READ MORE: Victim’s mother takes stand in Fort Saskatchewan murder trial

From the outset of the trial, Ziv has conceded his client did kill his son, but said he isn’t a murderer because he has no recollection of it, and was in a sleep-like state, acting like an automaton.

Starrett is expected to take the stand in his own defense at some point.

The trail is scheduled to run for another three-and-a-half weeks.

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