It wasn’t enough that Wendy Yurko lost her daughter.
She was even deprived of being able to put the day her daughter was killed on her tombstone, because the exact day was never determined.
Now, the mother of Dana Turner, a murder victim from Fort Saskatchewan, plans to write a book about how she believes the justice system failed her daughter.
Dana Turner was killed in August 2011 in Edmonton by her ex-boyfriend Mark Lindsay, who was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 16 years on Oct. 27 following his conviction on second-degree murder charges.
But Turner’s mother, Wendy Yurko, believes her death could have been prevented in the first place.
Lindsay, the son of a former Edmonton Police chief, pleaded guilty on Aug. 12, 2011 to an assault on Turner stemming from an incident in his apartment where he stabbed Turner in the head in June. He was sentenced to time served (50 days) and released from jail.
Not long after, Turner disappeared. The exact date of her death was never determined. Her body was found in a ditch near Innisfail. Lindsay confessed to the murder in September 2011, but said it was in self defence, which the judge rejected in the recent trial.
Yurko said she and Turner were only notified of Lindsay’s release four hours in advance. She believes her daughter would still be alive if Lindsay wasn’t released from custody.
“I feel this system is just as guilty for murdering my daughter as Mark Lindsay is,” she said. “We got no warning, no communication, and obviously never got a phone call back from the Crown prosecutor that he’s sorry he made a plea bargain that resulted in the slaughter of my child.”
After the initial June 2011 incident, Lindsay was charged with aggravated assault. That was later reduced to assault. Yurko believes Lindsay got preferential treatment because of his father’s former position as a police chief.
“How come we treat certain members of society a certain way and other ones a different way?” Yurko questioned.
In addition to the fact that Lindsay was released from custody following the initial assault, Yurko charges that there were a multitude of problems in the murder trial as well.
For one, she believes Lindsay should have been convicted of first-degree murder, not second degree, because there was evidence the murder was premeditated because Lindsay purchased plastic bags, gloves, bleach and sponges to clean up the crime scene.
She also rejects the theory put forward by the defence that Lindsay was not criminally responsible due to schizophrenia.
“The judge at our trial was absolutely aghast because from the time Mark Lindsay was 10, there is evidence that he did not have (clinical) schizophrenia. He had drug-induced schizophrenia,” Yurko said.
She said the Crown prosecutor and Edmonton Police Service barely notified her family of the proceedings, and she had to see her local MLA three times to get the dates for the murder trial.
“We only knew three days before. I don’t think that’s right. This is disgusting what they did to our family,” Yurko said.
Yurko said she will do everything within her power to ensure Lindsay does not get parole after 16 years.
She plans to write a book about the ordeal, not only to document what she perceives as flaws in the justice system, but also as a tribute to her daughter and her family.
“Number one is so that my grandsons, who do not have their mom, will have memories. But I also am going to write this book to include (my thoughts on) the justice system that is so corrupt,” Yurko said. “They’re as corrupt as the criminals they’re putting in jail.”
Yurko is so angry she said the trial made her reconsider Canada’s stance on capital punishment.
“If we don’t have money for good people, like Dana, who went to (an) Alberta hospital for postpartum depression, was given 16 meds and kicked out after a week and a half, then obviously we don’t have money for the Mark Lindsays of the world,” she said.
She said she wants her daughter to be remembered as a compassionate, caring individual who put other people first.
Yurko remembers how her daughter called her one day while staying at the hospital and was dismayed that other patients did not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. She asked her mother if she could bring some produce for her to share with other patients.
Yurko says her daughter was the same until the day she died. She says Turner bought Lindsay two meals on the day she was killed, and even paid for the gas that took her to her death.
“That is what my daughter was like and she was slaughtered for nothing. She would never hurt a lady bug. She would give the shirt off her back to anybody, any time. My daughter was an angel.”
~Originally published in the Fort Record