Grandfather of murder victim applauds new policy

Andrew Robinson
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Laments the fact Child Death Review Committee has been so long in the works

David Bagby and his wife, Kate Bagby, have experienced a great deal of sorrow — the murders of their son, Andrew Bagby, and grandson, Zachary Turner.

With a provincial government bill concerning the death of children recently moving a step closer to becoming legislation, the Bagbys hope other families do not go through what they did.

“It’s good to see that the recommendations in the (Peter) Markesteyn report are being taken seriously,” David Bagby said when reached Wednesday at his home in California, in response to the passing of Bill 33 in the House of Assembly.

The bill, an act to amend the Fatalities Investigation Act, will lead to the formation of a Child Death Review Committee that will examine unexpected deaths involving youth under the age of 19 years.

It is hoped recommendations from those reviews will lead to measures that prevent such deaths from occurring.

Bill 33 was passed in its second reading at the House of Assembly on Monday and is now at the committee stage.

Creating such a committee was one of the recommendations included in the 2006 Turner Review and Investigation report prepared by Markesteyn and David Day.

Zachary Turner, 13 months, was killed in 2003 when his mother, Shirley Turner, took both their lives in a murder-suicide in Conception Bay South. Both drowned.

Turner was on bail awaiting extradition to the United States to face charges in the shooting death of Andrew Bagby, her ex-lover and Zachary’s father.

While David Bagby is pleased to hear the Child Death Review Committee is a step closer to becoming reality, he’s surprised it has taken so long to reach this point.

“Like everything related to the law, it’s always astounding to Kate and me how long it takes to do anything related to the law. It’s nine years since Zachary was murdered, and now there’s a bill to create a child death review. Why did that take so long?”

The justice minister and the child and youth advocate will receive copies of all committee reviews, and David Bagby hopes they are given careful consideration.

“Way back when (the government was) talking about doing our child death review, Saskatchewan, they told us, had done about 100 of these over the years.

“We thought about that a bit, and then we wondered, well, does anybody go back and look at those reviews and their recommendations … or do they just go on the shelf?”

David Bagby said he can see the logic in an amendment proposed by the opposition Liberals that would give the chief medical examiner the authority to instigate reviews concerning past cases of child deaths that fall into categories such as suicides or deaths linked to drug abuse.

“Why wait for the next one when you’ve already got some cases sitting there that haven’t been thoroughly investigated?” David Bagby said.

“In Zachary’s case, fortunately, it was very thoroughly investigated. The Markesteyn report, I don’t know how it could be improved.”

In 2007, David Bagby published a memoir about the deaths of his son and grandson, titled “Dance With the Devil.”

Zachary’s death later inspired Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Andrews to introduce legislation giving courts the right to refuse bail to people charged with serious offences on the grounds of protecting their children from harm. It became federal law in 2010.

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Child Death Review Committee, House of Assembly.The, Turner Review

Geographic location: California, Conception Bay South, United States Saskatchewan

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Recent comments

  • Linda
    August 29, 2013 - 14:50

    I have read the previous comments which have led me to believe that the egos of the courts, judges and entire system in Newfoundland led to the death of baby Zachary. No big, bad American judge is going to tell me what to do with OUR CITIZENS. Kudos to the Bagby's for fighting the good fight. Two Americans that care about the welfare of Canadian children. Of all children

  • Disgusted
    June 21, 2012 - 19:11

    Mavis you are probably right. When anyone from the US says anything we circle our wagons - as if we know so much better. The Grandparents live in a country (USA) that we often talk negatively about but they are use to courts that send murderers, drug dealers and child molesters to jail for years. Here we give them house arrest for the weekend and try to "save them". Eventually we will realize there are people that are not fit to be in the community and need to go and stay in jail. Our Judges are so wimpy, prosecutors so lax and slow and people that commit violent crimes often just laugh at the system. We need elected judges that have to answer to someone! God forbid we send some person charged with a violent premediated murder to jail until trial ........................ The people making the decisions that day sentenced the little boy to death - not knowingly but .........................

  • Leah
    June 21, 2012 - 11:28

    Mavis, that is pure nonsense !!!!

  • Jon
    June 21, 2012 - 09:19

    If you have not seen the movie "Dear Zachary", you have to watch it. It is featured on Netflix if you have it. The movie documents this heartbreaking story and is a must watch.

  • Leah
    June 21, 2012 - 09:06

    Little Zachary would be ten years old now. Whoever made the final decision in returning this totally innocent baby to his so-called mother, a murder suspect of his father , is responsible for his death. Zachary could have had such a wonderful life with his grandparents. His life was stolen from him unnecessarily because of stupid, stupid, stupid decisions of adults. My heavens, I cannot even comprehend such a decision considering all the circumstances. And, yes, why do these Bills take so long to pass, years in most cases? God bless the Bagby's, and I pray they will feel His peace and comfort.

  • Dan
    June 21, 2012 - 08:21

    I could not agree more with Dawn! No family should have to endure what the Bagby's have had to endure.

  • David
    June 21, 2012 - 08:18

    CYFS! Will never be taken seriously, who can relate or do business with this organization knowing that they are responsible for this? Ditto, to Family Court!

  • David Wilson
    June 21, 2012 - 07:57

    What will happen to children if a parent is wrongfully accused and they are the childs only parent? I guess the children will have to suffer. I hope Bill 33 speaks to this situation.

  • Dawn
    June 21, 2012 - 06:53

    This entire case is a disgrace to the Newfoundland Judicial system. How could they have gotten it so wrong and been so stupid? Having given custody, temporary or otherwise, to a murder suspect defies logic. Let's hope everyone has come to their senses before something this wrong happens again.

    • Mavis
      June 21, 2012 - 11:09

      I'm sorry to say this, but I can't help feel that Zachary might be alive today were it not for that fact that his concerned grandparents were "from away," and therefore, their concerns were not deemed relevant even in the eyes of highly educated people who should know better. It was about circling the wagons, so to speak, to fend off the know-it-all outsiders. Having seen the documentary as well as having read Mr. Bagby's book, I am aware however that they had a lot of support on a personal level here in SJ which was obviously a good thing.