CALGARY — Tearful loved ones stood and applauded after a jury found a man guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of a Calgary woman and her five-year-old daughter.
Edward Downey, 48, had testified he didn't kill Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman in July 2016.
"Now, I can go home and bury Sara and Taliyah's ashes and forever let them rest in peace," Baillie's mother, Janet Fredette, said after Wednesday's verdict.
"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."
It took the jury less than three hours to reach its verdict.
The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but it has yet to be determined whether Downey will have to wait 25 or 50 years to be eligible for parole.
The Crown has indicated it's seeking consecutive periods of parole ineligibility and all but one juror recommended the same. A sentencing date is to be set in January.
The Crown's theory was that Downey believed Baillie, 34, had influenced her best friend to break up with him and to decline to work as an escort.
The prosecution further argued that Baillie's daughter was a witness who needed silencing.
"Sara died trying to help her friend out of a bad situation. She is a hero," Fredette said. "Sara's death has ensured that no other individual will be harmed by Mr. Downey."
Downey looked straight ahead as the verdict was read and showed no emotion.
The trial heard that Baillie was found dead in a laundry hamper in her daughter's closet with duct tape wrapped around her face, neck and wrists. Taliyah was gone.
The girl's remains were found in some bushes east of the city three days later.
Both died by asphyxiation.
Downey repeatedly denied killing Baillie and her daughter.
He testified that the day Baillie was found dead, he met two other men — one he called Terrance and a friend of Terrance's — at Baillie's place to buy cocaine, but Downey had to get money from home.
Downey told court that before he left, the man identified as Terrance was arguing with Baillie and asked for tape. He said he ripped some off a roll the friend chucked over, not thinking much of the request.
Two of Downey's partial fingerprints were found on duct tape that had been wrapped around Sara's face, the trial heard.
It has been a long two and a half years to get to this moment in time... We are most pleased with the outcome of the trial and we are certain justice will be served following this verdict.Janet Fredette
The Crown told jurors Downey invented the two men and called Downey's version of events "patently absurd."
Cellphone pings from Downey's phone helped police zero in on the location of Taliyah's body. Downey testified he was in the area checking out drug stash locations instead of going to a planned meet-up spot to finish the drug deal.
Fredette thanked police, Crown and Victims Services.
"It has been a long two and a half years to get to this moment in time," she said. "We are most pleased with the outcome of the trial and we are certain justice will be served following this verdict."
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