A man accused of a double murder killed a woman who was trying to protect a close friend and then silenced the five-year-old daughter of the woman he was witnessing, a Crown prosecutor said on Monday.
Edward Downey, 48, is charged with first-degree murder in the murders of 34-year-old Sara Baillie and daughter Taliyah Marsman in July 2016.
In a hoarse, hoarse voice, Downey pleaded not guilty on Monday to a jury in a Calgary court.
Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said in her opening statement that Baillie was a close friend of Downey's girlfriend, who can only be identified as A.B. because of a publication ban.
She told the jury that Downey had hit his girlfriend in the face in front of Baillie. He also blamed Baillie for A.B.'s decision to terminate him and not work for him as an escort, she added.
MacPhail said his girlfriend was more than an intimate partner – she paid the bills and provided a home and a vehicle.
"You will be asked to consider the impact this had on Mr. Downey," MacPhail told jurors.
She described how loved ones were concerned when Baillie did not show up on July 11 for her shift as a waitress at Chili's Grill and Bar at Calgary's airport and Taliyah did not go to daycare.
Baillie's aunt, Marilynne Hamilton, testified that concerned friends and family searched the Baillie underground suite later that day.
She said that Baillie's purse was on the floor of her daughter's room with the wallet still inside. The Taliyah iPad was connected to the bed – unusual, since the child rarely separated from its award-winning device.
Baillie's car was not there. MacPhail told the trial that he would be found later parked on the corner.
"Something is not right," Hamilton recalled thinking.
A friend who was there also called 911.
The cops arrived and spoke to Hamilton and her husband in the living room. As they were finishing, an officer took one last look around.
Hamilton said he heard a sigh from the other room.
"I was begging him to tell me what he saw and if it was Sara and Taliyah," she testified, crying.
"He just said," I do not know, "Hamilton said, telling her and her husband to stay where they were.
"We heard it on the radio. He called different names, "she said. "He said," I need everyone here right now ". The jury heard that Baillie's body was found was found in a laundry basket in her daughter's closet, tape "wrapped around" her face and neck.
Taliyah was missing and an Amber Alert was issued.
The girl was found dead under a bush in a rural area east of Calgary three days later.
"She was almost six years old, old enough to identify her mother's killer, especially if she knew him," MacPhail said.
The cause of the death of mother and daughter was considered suffocation, the jury heard.
The public gallery of the courtroom was so full of loved ones and media that it was necessary to create an overflow audience room with a video feed.
Hamilton testified that she was close with Baillie and Taliyah and that they visited four or five times a week.
Baillie loved her family and friends, she said.
"She was the kind of person who would have given the last dollar in her wallet to someone who needed it," she said.
"She loved Taliyah. Taliyah was her life.
When asked if Baillie was protective of Taliyah, Hamilton said she was. She was asked if the same was true for her friends and family.
"Absolutely," replied Hamilton.