CALGARY — A man on trial for the deaths of a Calgary woman and her daughter bluntly told a courtroom Wednesday he didn’t do it, causing the slain girl’s father to hurl obscenities at the accused and storm out.
Edward Downey, 48, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman.
Defence lawyer Gavin Wolch asked Downey twice whether he was responsible for their deaths.
“No, I did not kill Sara Baillie,” he said. “No, I did not kill Taliyah Marsman.”
The girl’s father, Colin Marsman, cursed at Downey from the gallery before leaving the courtroom.
Downey, who is from Nova Scotia, said he doesn’t know who killed them.
Testifying in his own defence, Downey admitted he was in Baillie’s apartment on July 11, 2016, the day she was found dead.
He said he was there with another man identified only as Terrance and one of Terrance’s friends as part of a drug deal.
He said Baillie and Terrance seemed to be arguing with each other in her bedroom, but he’s not sure about what. Taliyah was alive and well in her own bedroom at the time, court heard.
Downey told court that Terrance asked for some tape, his friend passed over a roll and Downey ripped off a strip about half a metre long.
The trial heard earlier that two of Downey’s partial fingerprints were found on duct tape that had been wrapped around Baillie’s head and neck.
Her body was stuffed into a laundry hamper in her daughter’s closet.
Downey said he heard that evening from his then-girlfriend — Baillie’s best friend — that Baillie was dead.
“She said something happened to Sara. I can’t remember how exactly she said it,” Downey testified. “She said, ‘She’s gone.’ I asked her what she was talking about. She said Sara was dead.
“That’s how I found out.”
Jurors have heard Baillie and her daughter died by asphyxiation.
Downey testified he and the two other men got separated on the way to a location where they were supposed to finish off their drug deal. He said he drove past the city’s eastern edge to see if they might be at a potential drug stash site.
That was near where Taliyah’s body was found three days later. The trial previously heard that police used cellphone traffic to zero in on the girl’s location. Downey testified he was using his phone at the time.
It was getting late, so Downey decided to turn around and pick up his then-girlfriend from work, he said.
During cross examination, prosecutor Carla MacPhail said his phone was further east than where he said he turned around. Downey did not offer an explanation.
Downey said he found out at the police station days later that Taliyah was dead and he felt “bad” about it.
Wolch asked why.
“An innocent little girl dead,” Downey replied.
Wolch told jurors that if he accomplishes anything, “let it be that there are still unanswered question about what actually happened to Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman.”
The Crown has suggested Downey blamed Baillie for the breakup of his relationship with her best friend and for his girlfriend’s refusal to work for him as an escort. Prosecutors have also suggested Taliyah may have witnessed her mother’s death and could have identified Downey.
Downey testified both he and his ex-girlfriend came up with the idea that she should work as an escort. She testified earlier in the trial that she could not go through with it in the end.
Downey said he slept at her townhouse the night before Baillie was found dead, even though she had texted him telling him to pack his bags earlier in the day.
Wolch asked Downey whether he expected their relationship to continue.
“Not really ’cause I was looking elsewhere.”