Nfld. & Labrador

Grandparents await Turner death review

The grandparents of Zachary Turner will learn Wednesday about the circumstances that led to his death three years ago, when he was drowned by his mother.

The grandparents of Zachary Turner will learn Wednesday about the circumstances that led to his death three years ago, when he was drowned by his mother.

The Newfoundland and Labrador child advocate's office will release a report Wednesday on the death of the 13-month-old boy. Shirley Turner drowned herself and her son off a beach in Conception Bay, several kilometres outside St. John's.

Turner had been on bail while fighting extradition to the United States, where Pennsylvania authorities wanted to try her for the murder of her estranged lover, Andrew Bagby.

Turner, a Newfoundland-born medical doctor, fled to St. John's after Bagby's death. While in St. John's, she revealed she was pregnant and that Bagby was the father.

David Bagby, Andrew Bagby's father, has campaigned for three years for an investigation into how the justice system, social services system and police handled the Turner case.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Bagby told CBC News Tuesday.

"I'm ready. I want to get on with it."

Turner had met Andrew Bagby, a U.S. citizen, while both were medical students at Memorial University in St. John's in the 1990s.

The Turner case has captivated many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and has raised questions about how the justice and social services systems respond to cases involving people accused of committing crimes.

When she was let out on bail, a judge determined that Turner had presented no indications of a psychological disorder that would give concern about harm to the public.

However, the Crown did not present any evidence collected by U.S. authorities on what they described as Turner's emotional instability.

As well, no psychiatric evaluation was ordered by the court.

Further, none of the individuals who posted bail for Turner were required to demonstrate they had the means to post the thousands of dollars involved.

One of those who posted bail for Turner was a psychiatrist for whom she was a patient. This March, a College of Physicians and Surgeons panel found that John Doucethad engaged in professional misconduct by posting $65,000 in sureties in 2001.

David Bagby and his wife, Kathleen, called for the inquiry at an emotional news conference days after Shirley and Zachary Turner died.

Kathleen Bagby recently injured herself in a fall, and was not able to travel from the couple's California home to attend the release of the review.

There have been several delays in receiving the report. Lloyd Wicks, a former child advocate, launched the first investigation himself, although he resigned after the province's auditor general identified spending irregularities in his office.

The child advocate's office subsequently appointed Peter Markesteyn to conduct the child death review.

David Bagby said he is looking forward to reading Markesteyn's conclusions, but added nothing will eradicate his grief.

"Everywhere, everywhere we look, there's a reminder that Zachary ought to be here. He ought to have [had] his chance to live," he said.