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Fred Ferguson

Fred Ferguson on “Child Abuse; Case of John Ryan Turner” – Fredericton

“By that point in my career, some seventeen years out from law school, I had seen just about every kind of homicide possible, many of them too gruesome to recount here. And yet, despite those experiences of professional life, and the information Dr. McKay supplied to me by telephone the previous Friday, I was ill-prepared for what I was about to see. I had never before cried over a case as a lawyer and must say that the only time I ever cried in the twenty seven years I was a prosecutor was because of that little boy, John Ryan Turner.

“As I began to leaf through the photographs while standing near all of my colleagues seated at the grand oak counsel table in the storied main courtroom of our historic courthouse filled with people, I began to feel my eyes well up and tears begin to stream uncontrollably down my face. I was too stunned to speak, and even had I not been I could not have cleared my throat well enough to do so. The innocence portrayed in his face as he lay on the pathologist’s gurney, the incontrovertible evidence of long term abuse and neglect depicted in the photographs and the thought that he was far too young to die at the hands of another or others, most especially his parent or parents, was overwhelming. I stopped at what became at the trial photograph C-2 #11. I shall never forget that photograph as long as I live. The photograph, taken in the soft indirect artificial light of the examining table in an otherwise darkened room, depicted close up his innocent face, scarred and red raw at the corners of his mouth by repeated gagging. His cheeks and forehead were bruised in several places. One of his eyes was blackened. Quickly I turned away to face the side of the courtroom, away from all eyes. I put the photos away and tried to compose myself for the judge’s imminent arrival. Court was about to begin.”

Excerpt from Tough Crimes: True Cases by Top Canadian Criminal Lawyers
© Durance Vile Publications Ltd., 2014