CALGARY — A police officer testified Friday how he discovered a young girl’s lifeless body in some bushes east of Calgary, triggering an outburst of emotion in the courtroom during a double murder trial.
Edward Downey, 48, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Taliyah Marsman and her mother Sara Baillie.
The trial has heard Baillie was found dead in her basement apartment on July 11, 2016, bound in duct tape and stuffed inside a laundry hamper in her daughter’s closet.
Her daughter was missing and an Amber alert was issued.
Searchers began combing farmland east of Calgary on the morning of July 14, but nothing came up until that evening, said Const. Karl Sudyk.
Sudyk told the trial he and his partner were pinpointing spots to focus on when the search resumed the following morning.
He said they were checking out a stand of bushes with a gravel access road running through them.
“There was space in there. I saw a body of a young girl lying in the bush about 15 feet ahead of me,” Sudyk said.
“I called out to my partner and I said to him ‘we got her.’ I yelled ‘Taliyah’ to see if there was a reaction.”
There was no sign the child was breathing and her skin was ashen, Sudyk testified.
He said the girl’s right arm was raised above her head and there were flies around her eyes and mouth.
There were sobs and sniffles in the gallery during the testimony and some tearful relatives left the courtroom. Taliyah’s father, Colin Marsman, slumped forward in his seat with his head in his hands.
The court also heard Friday that Downey’s fingerprints were found on duct tape that was wrapped around Baillie’s face.
Sgt. Jodi Arns with the forensic crime scenes unit testified three partial prints invisible to the human eye were found on the sticky side of the tape, but one could not be analyzed because of poor quality.
She testified the two other prints were a match to Downey’s left forefinger.
Baillie’s aunt cried in the courtroom gallery as Arns held up strips of the silver tape arranged in rows beneath a plastic sheath.
Arns testified that the tape was wrapped around Baillie’s lower face and neck. She said Baillie’s wrists were also bound with tape.
The fingerprint analysis was done while Taliyah was still missing.
“There was an urgency to developing and doing the comparison,” Arns testified.
The court has heard both Baillie and Taliyah died of asphyxiation.