Damien Starrett was sentenced to seven years in prison after his trial came to an end on Tuesday (Sept. 13) morning.
A number of reductions to the sentence that consider state misconduct during Starrett’s stay at the Edmonton Remand Center, the collateral consequences, and restrictive bail conditions were made.
The overall length of time that Starrett will spend in prison from now on is roughly 4.5 years.
The judge acknowledged the extreme gravity of Starrett’s actions and cited victim impact statements heard over the past few weeks. It was also noted that though the assault was not planned and was spontaneous there is still a high degree of moral blameworthiness associated with Starrett.
A six-month sentence for assaulting his daughter will be served concurrently.
The sentence comes after a lengthy legal process that began back in 2019.
In November of that year, Starrett attacked his two children. One-year-old Ares was killed in the attack and his five-year-old daughter, whose name is protected by a publication ban, was assaulted. In the moments after the incident, Starrett placed a 911 call to report the injuries of his children.
Paramedics working that night testified in court that most of Ares’ head was purple, and there was "considerable swelling" to one eye.
In the days after the attack, Starrett was initially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ares. He pleaded not guilty, claiming to have been in a sleeping automaton-like state during the attack and that he should be found not criminally responsible.
This defense was not accepted by the Judge of the case, who pointed out the “evolving nature” of Starrett’s story about a dream where he was fighting a creature during the attack. There was also found to be a lack of credibility regarding his drug use during the time of Ares’ death.
The Judge said it was more likely that Starrett had been experiencing the side effects of drug withdrawal and lashed out at his children. He was eventually found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Just last week, during the second week of his sentencing trial, Starrett took to the stand to apologize to both his children and the mother of the affected children.
“Seeing the pain in Ashton's eyes and hearing of [my daughter's] trauma ripped my insides apart," said Starrett. "I'm sorry this is our reality. I wish I could take all your pain and suffering and keep it as my own."
The defense had initially asked for a shorter four-year sentence, as opposed to the Crown’s suggested 9-to-10-year ask.
His defense cited the hardships suffered by Starrett during his time in custody, a completed Gladue report, and the fact that he immediately called for help after the attack as mitigating factors.
The Crown argued for a longer sentence citing the young victims unable to escape his care, the severity of Ares’ wounds, and the ongoing trauma as aggravating factors.