Family of Calgary mother Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman broke down in court Friday, as emotion-filled victim impact statements were read in court during a sentencing hearing for Edward Downey.
“Mr. Downey didn’t have the right to decide that their lives didn’t matter,” Baillie’s aunt Marilynne Hamilton told court.
Downey is convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Baillie and her daughter.
It took the jury less than three hours to reach the verdicts after hearing three-and-a-half weeks of graphic evidence from 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.
In his victim impact statement, Baillie’s uncle Scott Hamilton told court the horrible thoughts that replay in his mind.
“Did Taliyah know that the Mr. Downey had murdered her mum? Was she missing her mum? Was she crying out for her Auntie Marilynne? Was she crying out for her Grandma?” Scott said as he fought back tears.
“Was she wondering why we, her family, were not there for her? Was she crying out to be saved?”
Baillie’s niece Alex Hamilton told court: “I do not wish this type of trauma or heartbreak on my worst enemy — not even you Mr. Downey.
“I do hope that, after hearing what I have to say, you feel nothing but shame, guilt and despair for the crimes you have committed,” she said.
“I’m not getting any justice. Any real justice would mean Sara and Taliyah would still be here,” Hamilton said.
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.
Downey’s defence lawyer Gavin Wolch submitted four letters of support for his client–one from his mother, his sister, a cousin and from a brother. Those letters were not read in court.
Wolch said Downey should receive concurrent parole ineligibilities; that would mean he would be sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.
Wolch said 50 years before Downey could apply for release is just too long, adding it’s important to give someone “a sliver of hope” when going into a prison sentence.
“You could call it a custodial death sentence” Wolch said. “It’s not just hope for Downey, but for those who believe in him.”
Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail called Downey’s actions callous and argued he should face the maximum penalty with consecutive parole ineligibilities.
“We are dealing of a crime of extreme violence,” MacPhail said, as she described graphic and disturbing details of the two murders.
MacPhail added that it’s unlikely Downey would be rehabilitated in prison.
She referred to several high-profile cases where the killer received consecutive parole ineligibilities, including cases involving Douglas Garland and Derek Saretzky.
Taliyah’s family told court they also support the maximum punishment in this case.
“I would respectfully request that you sentence Mr. Downey, whom I never want to see nor hear from again as long as I live, to a sentence whereby even my children will not have to attend one Parole Board sitting in his attempt to gain freedom,” Scott Hamilton said.
There was sobbing in the courtroom as the impact of the loss of the two victims was described.
“I never got to say goodbye,” Marilynne said. “I never knew what I was about to lose.
“I wish that I had known that was the last hug, the last kiss, the sound of the last laugh, that last phone call. I never got to say goodbye,” she added.
Justice Beth Hughes has not yet said if she will make her decision Friday or set the sentencing over to another date.