Accused in murders of Calgary woman and her daughter testifies in own defence
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:00PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2018 6:30PM EST
CALGARY -- A man accused of killing a Calgary woman and her daughter says he didn't do it.
Edward Downey, who is 48, has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman.
Downey, taking the stand in his own defence, was asked twice whether he was responsible for their deaths -- both times he replied no.
His answers prompted Taliyah's father to yell obscenities and storm out of the courtroom.
Downey testified he was in Baillie's apartment with two other men doing a drug deal on July 11, 2016, the day she was found dead.
He said Baillie and one of his friends seemed to be arguing with each other in her bedroom.
Downey told court that his friend asked for some tape and the third man 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.
Baillie, who was 34, was found dead that evening. She had been stuffed into a laundry hamper in her daughter's closet.
Downey said he heard 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 Wednesday. "She said, 'She's gone.' I asked her what she was talking about. She said Sara was dead.
"That's how I found out."
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.
It 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 in a school parking lot and pick up his then-girlfriend from work, he said.
The girlfriend, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, told him she hadn't been able to contact Baillie all day, Downey testified. They went over to her house and noticed police were there.
"I was wondering what was wrong."
Downey's lawyer Gavin Wolch told court the last time Downey saw Taliyah, alive and well, was earlier that day.
Jurors have heard Baillie and her daughter died by asphyxiation.
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."
Downey testified he came from a large family in Nova Scotia, where his father owned a barber shop and his mother worked in a bakery.
Wolch took Downey through his criminal record -- which dated from 1990 to 2006 -- and included charges related to pimping, firearms and drugs.
Downey testified he was selling drugs in the months leading up to Baillie and Taliyah's deaths to make money.
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."