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Trial begins for man accused in death of Calgary woman Dawns Baptiste in 2015

CALGARY — A jury in a Calgary murder trial heard Monday how a mother of four on her way to a friend’s house was beaten, stomped, sexually assaulted and then struck on the head with a rock.

Curtis Healy has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the 2015 death of Dawns Baptiste, who was 31. The accused, a tall, lanky young man, sat quietly in the courtroom in a blue jumpsuit.

Loved ones sat in court wearing red T-shirts with a photo of a smiling woman with glasses and pink hair. On them was written: “In loving memory of Dawns Echoes Baptiste” along with the dates of her birth and death.

The trial was previously scheduled to take place last year and her brother, Alex Baptiste, said the wait has been tough.

“It’s pretty hard because we wanted finally put our sister to rest and now that we’re finally able to do that, I hope that everybody will do more for other missing and murdered Indigenous women out there,” he told reporters outside court.

The Baptistes are members of the Samson Cree Nation south of Edmonton and Baptiste described his sister as a caring mother who was outgoing and always there for her loved ones.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail told jurors Baptiste and Healy were both on a transit train the last night she was seen alive.

Two days later, Baptiste’s body was found face down in a northeast Calgary backyard with her pants and underwear pulled down and one steel-toed boot removed. She needed those boots for a construction job she had recently started, court heard.

MacPhail said the Crown intends to show that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that DNA from blood and hair on a rock matched Baptiste’s.

She said Healy told police after his arrest that he used the rock to “finish her off.”

An expert will testify that blood on Healy’s shoe matches Baptiste’s DNA and that semen found on Baptiste matches Healy’s, MacPhail told court Monday.

Alex Baptiste described in court how he, his sister and his then-common law wife met downtown on Feb. 10, 2015, and headed to a McDonald’s restaurant in northwest Calgary to eat.

After supper, the Baptiste siblings went back downtown by train and got separated. He said he believed she was heading to a friend’s house with whom she’d been staying.

That was the last time Baptiste saw his sister alive.

Darlene Bear testified her friend Dawns Baptiste had been staying at her home in northeast Calgary, near where her body was found, for about two weeks.

When Baptiste left in the morning, Bear said she was wearing a red jacket, jeans, steel-toed boots and a ball cap that said “boss” on the front.

Marvin Erasquin, who lives in the neighbourhood, told the jury he was walking to take the train to work early on Feb. 11, 2015, when he came across a red substance on the snow, the “boss” hat and a pair of glasses with one broken lens.

When he returned from work, he said the cap was gone but the glasses were still there.

Alex Baptiste said he intends to be at court throughout the three-week trial.

“I’m going to be there ’til we get justice for her and make sure that justice is going to happen for other families out there that are coping with the same loss too.”