There has been a verdict in the trial of Damien Starrett.
Starrett has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his one-year-old son, Ares, and assault on his five-year-old daughter, whose name is protected by a publication ban.
Ares was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital on the evening of Nov. 23, 2019. The paramedic working that night told the court most of the baby's head was purple, and there was "considerable swelling" to one eye. Ares also had no pulse and no signs of breathing.
Days later, the RCMP charged Starrett with second-degree murder and assault for attacking his daughter. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, arguing that he was in a sleeping, automaton-like state during the attack and that he should be found not criminally responsible.
Starrett was ultimately found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter. The Crown pursued the manslaughter charge as they believed Starrett was too intoxicated to have the intent the second-degree murder conviction requires.
The judge pointed out that much of Starrett's evidence was credible and reliable concerning sleep disorders, but other facts "gave rise to serious credibility concerns."
Some inconsistencies included the "evolving nature" of his story about a dream where he was fighting a creature during the attack and a lack of credibility regarding his drug use with respect to the time period when Ares died.
"I do not accept his statement that he was not aware of what was happening at the time of the assaults," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Henderson.
He said it was more likely that Starrett was experiencing severe opioid withdrawal symptoms and lashed out at his children.
"I find that Mr. Starrett was in a desperate situation at the time and was prone to explosive outbursts when his anger overwhelmed him."
The judge has revoked Starrett's bail pending sentencing, which is expected to take place in the fall.