Curb bail for suspected killers, Ottawa told
The Canadian government should change the Criminal Code to prevent suspects in murder investigations from obtaining bail, a parliamentary committee has been told.
U.S. citizens David and Kate Bagby travelled to Ottawa Tuesday to appeal to the parliamentary justice committee, using their own harrowing experience with the Canadian justice system as evidence.
In 2003, physician Shirley Turner — wanted in Pennsylvania on a murder charge for the shooting death of the Bagbys' son, Andrew — drowned herself and her 13-month-old son, Zachary Turner, in Newfoundland's Conception Bay.
Turner, who had fled from the U.S., had been granted bail in Newfoundland Supreme Court while she awaited an extradition decision.
"If you leave the bail law as it is, siding with the monsters against the rest of us, eventually someone like me will do the right thing — kill one of these monsters you routinely set free," David Bagby told MPs.
"You will then have to send an innocent person to prison, for the crime of protecting himself and his family from a murderer."
Andrew Bagby was found shot to death in a Pennsylvania parking lot. Authorities concluded that Turner, who met Bagby while both were medical students in St. John's, was the only suspect, but she flew to Canada before she could be arrested.
While fighting extradition to the U.S., Turner gave birth to Zachary. The Bagbys relocated to St. John's temporarily so they could play a role in their grandson's upbringing.
The Bagbys were furious that Turner was allowed to have custody of their grandson.
A subsequent review found that Turner, rather than surrender to authorities, took her child, strapped him to her body, then jumped off a wharf into Conception Bay in August 2003.
Liberal MP Scott Andrews, who represents the eastern Newfoundland riding of Avalon, has sponsored a private member's bill on bail reform that has now received unanimous support from the justice committee.
If it became law, judges would be given greater powers in refusing bail to individuals accused of serious crimes.
Bagby said the current system is insufficient, and that court orders proved to be meaningless in the Turner case.
"A piece of paper won't stop a killer," he told MPs.
"Shirley Turner was ordered to appear in court and agreed to obey that order. She did in fact obey that order over the 20 months of [the] extradition process, but she always had the option to thumb her nose at the court, and disappear whenever she felt like it, and hurt as many people as possible on her way out."