Accused double-murderer Edward Downey denies killing Calgary mother and daughter
Warning: This story contains graphic language.
Downey has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in their deaths. On Wednesday, he testified in his own defence.
Downey said on the day Baillie was killed, he went to her house to get drugs from a friend–but denied he had anything to do with the two murders.
His defence lawyer, Gavin Wolch asked: “Mr. Downey, did you kill Sara Baillie?”
“No, I did not kill Sara Baillie,” Downey replied.
When asked if he knew who did, he said he thought he did but added he didn’t actually see it happen.
Wolch then asked: “Mr. Downey, did you kill Taliyah Marsman?”
“No, I did not kill Taliyah Marsman,” Downey answered.
At that point, there was an outburst in the courtroom.
“F–k you, you piece of sh-t,” Taliyah’s father Colin Marsman yelled before leaving the room.
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Baillie was found dead inside her northwest Calgary basement suite on July 11, 2016. Taliyah’s body was found three days later, outside city limits, following an Alberta-wide Amber Alert.
Wolch told jurors “nobody intended to kill Sara Baillie” and said his client did not go to her home alone on July 11, 2016. Wolch said the last time Downey saw Taliyah, it was that same morning and “she was alive and well.”
Downey told court on July 11, 2016, he had met up with an old drug dealing buddy named Terrance at a Tim Hortons.
“He (Terrance) had drugs, I was low on drugs, so we decided to meet up,” Downey testified.
Downey told court Terrance was with another friend and the trio agreed to meet by Baillie’s house so he could get drugs.
He described driving AB’s car, while Terrance and his friend drove a white Mercedes.
“He parked on the first side street, I would have parked on the second street over,” Downey said. “We go inside.”
Downey told jurors he thinks Terrance knocked, then “she (Baillie) opens the door, we go inside.”
The accused said there were hellos and then said “Sara puts Taliyah in her room.”
Downey told court that’s when Terrance and Baillie went into a room to talk, but said he couldn’t hear what they were discussing.
While that happened, Downey said he and Terrance’s friend talked in the TV room, “about car stereos and I don’t know what else.”
“I go ask Terrance what’s up with the drugs,” Downey told court. “He told me to wait a minute or whatever and he called me back.”
He told jurors they went into a little storage room where Terrance pulled out his knapsack and “showed him his cocaine.”
“I think it was four kilos, that’s how much I counted by looking,” Downey said, estimating the drugs were worth several hundred thousand dollars.
Downey testified he told Terrance he didn’t need that much, he only wanted “an ounce or so.” He said he decided to go check out the car stereo in Terrance’s Mercedes.
“I get in the Mercedes, I put the station on for music, turned up the volume–it was kind of loud,” he said, adding he went for a drive in the area before returning to the home.
“I go back in the house,” Downey said. He suggested at that time, Baillie was still talking to Terrance, and Taliyah was still in the first bedroom with the door closed.
“They (Baillie and Terrance) were getting a little loud or whatever…I went and asked them if everything was OK,” Downey said. “They were still fighting but they said it was OK.”
Downey testified he couldn’t tell what Baillie and Terrance were fighting about from the TV room where he was.
“They were just mouthing each other off,” he said. “Terrance yelled out for tape, I ripped off a piece of tape, I pass it to him. He asks for the roll, I give it to him.”
Wolch asked Downey what was going through his mind at that time.
“Nothing, I just thought he wanted tape,” Downey replied.
“I thought they were just having an argument.”
He estimated after he was at the home for an hour or two, he said he was going to go grab the money and would then be back.
Downey said he left and went to his girlfriend’s house. Court heard at the time, he was dating AB, a woman whose identity is protected by a court-imposed publication ban, and who described Baillie as her best friend earlier in the trial.
Downey said he had a snack at AB’s house, sent some emails and played a game, then headed back to Baillie’s place. He said at that time, he was driving the Mercedes belonging to Terrance because he “wanted to check the stereo again.”
Downey said he didn’t go back inside of Baillie’s home upon returning.
“I pull up and Terrance and his buddy were down where the car was parked,” Downey said. “We exchange keys and they jump in, I jump in.”
He told court they talked for a minute–estimating by then it was 1 p.m. or 2 p.m.
He said he started following them, and told court they had agreed to meet at McKnight and 52 Street, so he could get the drugs.
“I start following them up towards the spot we decided to meet.”
But Downey said he lost Terrance and his friend.
“I turn around, I figured I would go see if he still had a stash spot,” Downey said, describing that as a spot Terrance would keep his drugs and adding he didn’t want to wait as it was getting late.
He told court he decided to drive to a “stash spot” east of the city and got to an area near Conrich school.
Earlier in the trial, a Calgary police crime analyst told court she used cell communications to and from a phone belonging to Downey to help find Taliyah. Jurors were shown a map created by the analyst to help guide officers in their search. Taliyah was found on the edge of a circle where the analyst predicted the five-year-old would be. Under cross-examination, Downey maintained he was on that road to find a drug stash spot.
Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail said his explanation did not line up with the forensic evidence already presented.
In Downey’s testimony Wednesday, he said when he reached the spot near Conrich school, he decided to turn around and pick AB up from work.
He said that’s when he learned Baillie was missing.
“She said she can’t get ahold of Sara,” Downey said. “I didn’t think nothing of it, at that time, anyway.”
He told court he and AB drove by Baillie’s house.
“There was cops there,” Downey said, adding he and AB’s son went to a nearby park while his girlfriend went to see what was happening.
“I was wondering what was wrong,” Downey said.
He said they eventually went back to AB’s home.
“I know she got a call to come back to Sara’s and she went back,” Downey said. “That’s when I found out.”
Wolch asked him what he found out.
“That Sara wasn’t alive,” Downey replied.
He said AB told her Sara was dead.
“I felt sad,” Downey said upon learning that news.
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Downey began his testimony Wednesday morning by going through his criminal record, starting with a conviction from 1990, possession of a stolen credit card.
He said in 1991, he was sentenced to probation and restitution for mischief.
Then in 1998, he told court he was convicted of “exercising control.”
“I was selling dope, she was an escort and there were some charges with some other people,” Downey said. “We were on the phone taps…I was asking for money to be sent to me through a bank account and I got charged.”
Other convictions for firearms offences were listed from 2002, and then in 2008 he was convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
“I got pulled over for speeding, car got searched…they found the drugs,” Downey said, adding he had three kilograms of cocaine.
Downey said once he was released from prison in 2010, he was a driver for a trucking company until that company went into receivership. He then operated a tanning salon with a woman before their relationship ended.
Wolch asked Downey to tell court about his relationship with AB, a woman whose identity is protected by a court-imposed publication ban. Court heard AB was Baillie’s best friend.
It’s the Crown’s theory that Downey killed Baillie because she was trying to get AB to break up with him and was helping her stay away from work as an escort. The Crown has suggested to the jury that Downey later killed Taliyah because she witnessed her mother’s murder.
Downey told court he doesn’t recall when he met AB, though she testified earlier it was when she was approximately 13 years old.
He said they started dating in 2014, and said it was “good in the beginning.”
“I didn’t like the way she drank all the time so it got really bad; that’s what made our relationship go bad,” Downey told jurors.
“We would get in arguments about what was going on, then we would figure things out or try to figure things out to make it work, but it just didn’t end up working,” he said.
Downey confirmed AB’s earlier testimony that he took her to Edmonton to work as an escort. He said it was a mutual decision.
“I told her she didn’t have to,” Downey said.
Downey told court in 2016 he was not working a normal job, and said he was earning money by selling drugs–specifically cocaine.
He told court he would go to “bad areas of town” and try to make money. He said he had a car in Ontario he was trying to get money for– a Mercedes.
At that time he said he was selling cocaine every day.
Cross-examination of Downey will continue Thursday.
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