The jury trial for a Calgary man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her daughter Taliyah Marsman in 2016 started on Monday morning.
In her opening address to a five-man, seven-woman jury, Crown lawyer Carla MacPhail detailed the case she and co-prosecutor Ryan Jenkins intend to call against accused double murderer Edward Downey.
“The Crown’s theory is that the accused before you, Mr. Edward Downey is guilty of first-degree murder for the killing of Sara Baillie and her daughter. Taliyah Marsman,” MacPhail said.
The prosecutor told jurors Baillie’s body was found stuffed in laundry bag in her daughter’s bedroom closet in the northwest basement suite they shared, duct tape wrapped around her face, neck and wrists.
Analysis later found three fingerprints on the tape, although one couldn’t be identified.
“The other two prints on that duct tape were identified,” the prosecutor said.
“They were made by the left forefinger of Mr. Downey.”
An autopsy was subsequently performed by medical examiner Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo.
“Dr. Adeagbo concluded that Sara Baillie died of asphyxiation, through both neck compressions and smothering,” the prosecutor said.
Missing from the home along with Taliyah was Baillie’s Ford Fusion, which was found a short distance away.
Witnesses had seen a short stalking male park the car, retrieve a little girl from the rear and take her to a grey car with tinted windows similar to one driven by Downey, MacPhail said.
Analysis of Downey’s cell phone usage indicated the device “was in the area of Sara and Taliyah’s residence the morning of July 11, 2016.”
Cell phone tower records also suggested the device was taken east of the city and police established a three-kilometre diameter to look for the child’s body, jurors were told.
Shortly after 7 p.m. on July 14, she was found.
“She was dead, her body lying on the ground in some bushes,” MacPhail said.
She too was asphyxiated, Adeagbo determined.
“The Crown’s theory is that Taliyah’s killer took her and killed her because she was a witness to the murder of her mother. She was almost six, old enough to identify her mother’s killer, especially if she knew him.”
As for the motive for killing Baillie, MacPhail suggested it might have been related to the dead woman’s friendship with Downey’s then-girlfriend, a woman who can only be identified by the initials A.B.
MacPhail suggested Downey may have been angry at Baillie for influencing A.B.’s decision to break up with him and her refusal to work for him as an escort.
Meanwhile, in evidence, court heard about the search for Baillie after she failed to show up for work and Taliyah didn’t make it to her daycare.
Baillie’s aunt, Marilynne Hamilton, said a group of family and friends went to the residence and found her niece’s purse on the child’s bedroom floor and her car missing.
Police were called and while a cursory search found nothing a more thorough found her body.
“He went into Taliyah’s bedroom and then we heard him gasp and he told us not to come in,” Hamilton said of the officer who made the grisly discovery.
The trial is set for three weeks.