Calgary man should be found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in death of Dawns Baptiste: defence lawyer

Curtis Healy is charged with the murder of 31-year-old Dawns Echoes Baptiste (above), a mother of four whose body was found in a Whitehorn backyard on Feb. 12, 2015.

WARNING: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing to readers.

A lawyer for a man on trial for first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary mother of four says Curtis Healy should be found guilty of second-degree murder instead.

A jury heard evidence that Healy met Dawns Baptiste on a light-rail transit train while she was on her way to stay with a friend and that she told him to leave her alone after they walked away from the station.

Court heard Healy became enraged at the rejection and then stomped Baptiste’s head, dragged her through a hedge, raped her while she was unconscious and struck her over the head with a large rock.

“This case isn’t about who caused the death of Ms. Baptiste. Curtis Healy caused Ms. Baptiste’s death. Curtis Healy sexually assaulted Ms. Baptiste – we know that,” defence lawyer Shamsher Kothari said in closing arguments Wednesday.

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READ MORE: Murder trial begins for man accused in death of Calgary mother Dawns Echoes Baptiste

As several of Baptiste’s friends and relatives watched from the gallery, Kothari asked jurors to convict Healy of second-degree murder.

“You’ll convict Mr. Healy of murder, but it’s not first-degree murder.”

Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said because Baptiste’s killing took place along with the rape, it’s first-degree murder. But Kothari suggested to jurors that there is much that is unclear with the sequence of events in the early morning of Feb. 11, 2015.

Kothari said a statement Healy gave to police four days later should be treated with skepticism.

READ MORE: Family of Dawns Baptiste remembers victim as caring mother with big heart

Jurors were shown video of the interview with Det. Colum Cavilla, during which Healy confessed to the rape and killing of Baptiste, saying he’d used the rock to “finish her off.”

“Mr. Healy is easily led and he basically gives parrot-like answers within that inherently unreliable statement,” Kothari said.

“I’m going to suggest to you that during these inherently unreliable statements, Det. Cavilla fed Mr. Healy certain words and themes and I’m going to suggest that Mr. Healy is a low functioning person and because of that he latched on to certain words.”

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Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said it is possible that Baptiste punched Healy, as he describes in the police statement, but that jurors should put no stock in his contention that she tried to stab him.

“It is quite clear that if that punch happened, it was to underline that sentiment: get away from me, an effort to repel him away from her,” she said.

“I suggest it is proven that Mr. Healy became enraged with Dawns Baptiste after she said what she said … And this state of anger, in the Crown’s submission, is consistent with the vicious extent of the stomping, the dragging, the raping, the striking her with a rock.”

MacPhail also told jurors that security footage shows Healy was not so drunk that night that he was stumbling and unco-ordinated.

She said it is possible that Healy has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, as he mentions in the police statement, “but the fact remains that he was absolutely capable of understanding and providing answers to Det. Cavilla on Feb. 15.”

She said many of the things he told the detective proved to be lies, and that at numerous points on the night of Baptiste’s death he made efforts to deflect suspicion.

“You know that Mr. Healy is capable of resisting suggestion, you know he is capable of saying no, because he has done so numerous times during that interaction with Det. Cavilla,” MacPhail said.

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Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Charlene Anderson is to give instructions to the jury on Thursday afternoon.

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