WARNING: Some details presented in court are graphic and may be disturbing to some.
Family and friends of Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman were sobbing in court Thursday as graphic details were presented by the officer who first responded to Sara’s home.
Calgary Police Const. Bradley Nykoluk testified in the fourth day of the trial of Edward Downey, accused of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara and Taliyah.
Nykoluk said he was first called to the home on July 11, 2016 for a “check on welfare.” He said family members were concerned when they couldn’t find Sara and Taliyah.
He said an initial search came up empty. He didn’t see any signs of forced entry.
Nykoluk testified he then spoke with some neighbours, then with Colin Marsman, Taliyah’s father.
He went back to Sara’s basement suite at approximately 7:50 p.m. that day. He said he decided to do another search.
“I must be missing something,” he said.
Nykoluk told court he put on a pair of gloves and started a more thorough search of the home.
“I began searching a little bit more in depth, going through drawers, going through cupboards more thoroughly,” he said. “I was looking for a diary, plane ticket, something to indicate where they had gone”
He said he even looked in between the mattresses.
When he got to Taliyah’s closet, he said he used a flashlight to get a better look.
He said he first looked in the left side, but it was on the left that something seemed off.
“I went to look at the right and observed a clothes hamper,” Nykoluk said. “I reached to move the laundry hamper out of the way but it wouldn’t budge.”
Nykoluk said the hamper was a lot heavier than it should be. He noted clothes were stacked on top of it.
Court heard he removed those clothes and that’s when he made an horrific discovery.
“I could see the seat of jeans and there were two feet sticking out with painted toenails.”
Nykoluk described touching one of the feet.
“It felt cold, almost waxy,” he said.
There were tears in the gallery of the court as he continued to describe what he had found.
“At first I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking at and then realized it was a body that I had found,” he said.
He told court his first instinct was to see if he could help the person, but then realized “they were beyond any help.”
“I literally walked backwards out of the room,” Nykoluk said.
He said he immediately called for the homicide unit to attend the scene.
Watch below: Global News coverage of Edward Downey’s trial
Earlier in the trial, the Crown told jurors Sara’s body was found stuffed into a laundry hamper and hidden in Taliyah’s closet.
“Duct tape was wrapped around Sara’s head, her face and neck,” Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail said in her opening statement.
She said Sara’s wrists were bound and her neck, face and body were bruised. MacPhail told jurors fingerprints were found on duct tape that bound Sara.
“They were made by the left forefinger of Mr. Downey,” MacPhail told court.
An autopsy revealed Sara died of asphyxiation.
After the discovery of Sara’s body, an Alberta-wide Amber Alert was activated for her missing daughter.
Taliyah was found three days later outside of the city limits.
The Crown said its theory is that Taliyah’s killer took her and murdered her because she was a witness to her mother’s death.
An expert in DNA analysis also testified on Thursday. Walid Dabbour told court Downey’s DNA profile couldn’t be excluded from samples taken from Sara’s home.
The trial will continue on Friday.