Double murder trial underway for Edward Downey, accused of killing Calgary mother and daughter of 5 years



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WARNING: The details in this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.

A jury trial is underway for a Calgary man accused of killing a mother and her five-year-old daughter.

On Monday morning, Edward Downey, 48, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the murders of Sara Baillie in 2016 and his daughter, Taliyah Marsman.

Graphic and disturbing details of the case were described in an opening statement by Crown Prosecutor Carla MacPhail.

Obtained by Global News

MacPhail began detailing the latest Taliyah interactions with his father, Colin Marsman.

Taliyah FaceTimed him on July 10, 2016. Taliyah wanted to tell him that he was losing a tooth.

Taliyah also had FaceTimed his great aunt and uncle, Marilynne and Scott Hamilton, to share the same news. She spent a lot of time with the Hamiltons.

Court heard that it was the next day, July 11, 2016, that her mother and daughter disappeared.

Sara should have a tanning encounter and was expected at work at 10 AM.

But Sara did not show up for any engagement, and Taliyah never showed up at day care.

Sara's family searched at home but could not find her.

Sara's aunt, Marilynne Hamilton, said she started calling, but Sara and Taliyah were nowhere to be found.

Marilynne and her husband, Scott Hamilton, went to her house in Calgary, in the northwestern part of the country.

"We all went to the apartment. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.

Marilynne broke when she witnessed.

"She [Sara] loved Taliyah. Taliyah was her life.

What they noticed was that Sara's purse was on the floor with her wallet inside.

"Her car was gone, so I thought it was unusual," said Marilynne.

They decided to call 911.

An initial police search came up empty.

But a second look from the officer led to a terrible discovery.

"We heard him gasp and told us not to come in … he told us to stay where we were," Marilynne said.

"I was begging him to tell me if it was Sara and Taliyah. He just kept saying, "I do not know."

Sara's body was found stuffed in a laundry basket and hidden in Taliyah's closet.

"The tape was wrapped around Sara's head, her face and her neck," MacPhail said.

Court heard Sara's wrists tied, her neck, her face and body bruised.

MacPhail said the fingerprints were found on tape that linked Sara.

"They were made by Mr. Downey's left finger," MacPhail said.

An autopsy revealed that she died of suffocation.

After the discovery of Sara's body, an Amber Alert throughout Alberta was activated by her missing daughter.

MacPhail told jurors that Downey was known to both Sara and Taliyah. He was the boyfriend of Sara's best friend.

The identity of this woman is protected by a publication ban imposed by the court and can only be referred to by the initials "AB".

The Crown told the jury the day before Sara's death, AB sent a text to Downey that said, "It's time to pack your bags and I'm ending that relationship."

MacPhail said things were crumbling, and it was up to the jury to decide whether Downey blamed Sara for it.

The jury was told that text messages will be presented as evidence during the trial – texts between Downey and one of his associates, expressing his opinion about Sara's influence on his girlfriend.

Crown claims that Downey also took steps to get his girlfriend to work as an escort, but she decided that "it was something she would not do."

"It's up to you to decide whether Downey blamed Sara for that too," MacPhail told the jury.

MacPhail said a Calgary police analyst used cell tower pings to map out Downey's moves.

It was a map from these data that led the police to find the body of Taliyah three days later, outside the city limits. His tiny body was discarded in some bushes.

The Crown said it was the theory that the murderer of Taliyah took and murdered her because she was a witness to the death of her mother.

Sara and Taliyah's family filled the court Monday, many were crying as they heard details of the case.

A press release was sent on Friday on behalf of the family.

He said they will be participating in the trial and asked for privacy as the case unfolds. The family said a statement would be made as soon as the jury reached the verdicts of the case.

The jury is composed of five men and seven women.

The trial is scheduled for three weeks.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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