The justice presiding over the double murder trial of Edward Downey in Calgary took a sudden and brief adjournment Wednesday morning after a witness statement led to tears and audible sobbing in the gallery.
Downey has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter, Taliyah Marsman.
Douglas Jesson, 72, is retired and said he was at his home in Panorama on July 11, 2016 — the day Sara and Taliyah went missing.
“I saw a gentleman take a little girl out of a car and take her across the road to another car,” Jesson said.
Court heard Jesson lived near Sara’s home.
Jesson said the man had a red suitcase as he walked the little girl across the road, and he noticed the little girl was wearing red rubber boots with white polka dots.
He told court he was looking out the side window of his house facing Pantego Close NW.
Jesson said the little girl was walking ahead of the man, who then opened the back door of a car, put the little girl inside, and then the suitcase.
“They drove away,” he said.
Family and friends of Sara and Taliyah, along with members of the public, cried as Jesson described one thing that stood out to him about the little girl.
“She had been crying,” he said.
Watch below: The former girlfriend of accused killer Edward Downey testified in his double murder trial Tuesday. Downey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman. Nancy Hixt has the latest.
Jesson’s wife, Sharry, testified she was also looking out her window on July 11, 2016 as she ate lunch.
She said she also saw a man take a little girl from one car to another that was parked across the boulevard. She testified the man then drove off.
“He was going fairly fast,” she said.
Sara’s body was found in her northwest Calgary basement suite on July 11, 2016, but her daughter was missing. That sparked an Alberta-wide Amber Alert for Taliyah.
The girl’s body was found outside the city limits three days later.
Also Wednesday, jurors heard from several Calgary police officers involved in the case.
Const. Robert Schmidt said he was working as a patrol officer when he was assigned to search for Sara missing car — a white Ford Fusion.
“I located the vehicle along Pantego close NW.”
That’s where the Jessons said they saw the man taking a little girl from one vehicle to another.
Sgt. Darren Smith said he was working with the CPS Domestic Conflict unit that day, and was assigned to go through CCTV. He was specifically told to search for video of Sara’s missing Fusion and a grey Dodge Charger.
Earlier, court heard Sara’s best friend, identified in court only by the initials AB, had a grey Dodge Charger. She testified on July 11, 2016 Downey was driving her Charger.
Smith said he went through video from various sources including city transit buses and taxi cabs.
He showed jurors a PowerPoint that tracked the movement of both cars.
The first image of Sara’s car shown in court was at 8:11 a.m. It was parked in front of her home.
Smith testified he then found CCTV of a grey Dodge Charger parked on Panatella Blvd NW around the corner from Sara’s house at 8:43 a.m. on July 11, 2016.
He took jurors through all CCTV found of the two cars.
The last time Sara’s car was seen on CCTV parked in front of her home was at 10:13 a.m. that day.
By the time the next image was taken in front of her home at 10:34 a.m., her car was gone.
At noon on July 11, 2016, Sgt. Smith said CCTV showed the Dodge Charger had moved to just Pantego Close, across from the Jessons’ home.
Smith said it was minutes later the Ford Fusion showed up on CCTV on that same close, by the Jessons. That’s where Sara’s car was recovered by police.
The Charger was then seen leaving the area at 1:27 p.m.
Testimony from Smith will continue on Thursday.
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