There was cheering, hugging and tears in a Calgary courtroom, as a jury found Edward Downey guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Calgary mother Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman.
“Sara died trying to help her friend out of a bad situation. She is a hero,” Baillie’s mother and Taliyah’s grandmother, Janet Fredette, said outside the courtroom following the verdict.
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It took the five men and seven women in the jury less than three hours to reach the unanimous decisions.
Fredette said the families were pleased with the outcome and were “certain justice will be served following this verdict.”
“Now I can go home and bury Sara and Taliyah’s ashes and forever let them rest in peace,” she said, holding back tears as family members behind her wrapped arms around her in support.
“Our hope is that in time, and little by little, this powerful love we feel for the girls will gradually take up more and more space in our minds each and every day — that pictures and sounds of the happier times will settle on us and drive out the darkness that has become part of our daily lives for the most recent past.
“Sara’s death has ensured that no other individual will be harmed by Mr. Downey.”
WATCH: A jury has found Edward Downey guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman. Nancy Hixt reports.
For three-and-a-half weeks, the jury had been presented with graphic details of the case.
Baillie was found 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.
First-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
What will need to be decided is if Downey should face consecutive parole ineligibilities, which was the recommendation of 11 out of 12 jurors. If that happens, Downey would not be able to apply for any kind of release for 50 years.
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Justice Beth Hughes reminded the gallery to maintain decorum throughout the proceedings. The entire room had erupted with emotion when the verdicts were delivered.
At one point, someone made a comment towards the accused, and Downey’s mother looked at the opposing side of the room and said, “you need to keep your mouth closed.”
She was not in the room for the verdict, but came in minutes after it was delivered.
WATCH (Dec. 17, 2018): Family and friends of a Calgary mother and her five-year old daughter broke down during closing arguments in the double-murder trial of Edward Downey. Nancy Hixt reports.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hughes read a 36-page charge to the seven women and five men on the jury.
“Guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hughes said. “The Crown bears the burden of proving guilt.
“There is no burden on Mr. Downey to prove that he is innocent; he does not have to prove anything.”
Jurors had been reminded to avoid all information from radio, television, newspaper, internet, Twitter, Facebook or any social media.
“Any other information about the case from outside the courtroom is not evidence,” Hughes said.
The case will be back in court Jan. 15 to set a date for sentencing.