Emotional victim impact statements read at Downey sentencing hearing
The man convicted of killing five-year-old Taliyah Marsman and her mother Sara Baillie was back in a Calgary courtroom on Friday for his sentencing hearing.
(**Warning: Graphic content)
Last December, it took a jury less than three hours to find Edward Downey guilty of two counts of first degree murder, in the death of Marsman and Baillee.
Baillie’s body was found with duct tape wrapped around her neck and face, stuffed into a laundry basket in a closet, in her Panorama Hills home on July 11, 2016.
Taliyah's body was found dumped in the bushes outside the city three days later.
The medical examiner determined that both died of asphyxiation.
During the trial the Crown called nearly 30 witnesses and the prosecution’s theory was that Downey killed Baillie because he hated her and that he killed Taliyah because she witnessed her mother’s murder.
Downey denied killing Baillie and Taliyah and testified that he didn’t hate Baillie or blame her for his relationship issues.
The 49-year-old faces a mandatory life sentence. The sentencing hearing will determine whether Downey will serve 25 or 50 years before he is eligible for parole.
Friends and family of the victims are in court and will present victim impact statements.
Baillie’s aunt and uncle, Scott and Marilynne Hamilton, and their daughter spoke first.
Alex Hamilton told the court that ‘They meant more to me than anyone can ever imagine’ and that she would do ‘anything for one more hug, one more hello, one more opportunity to tell them how much I love them.’
She fought back tears as she spoke and said she is traumatized by the mental images of what happened that day.
Marilynne Hamilton said she has difficulty sleeping at night and that she has an ‘intense feeling of heartache and sadness and that always ends with heart wrenching tears.’
She spoke about how proud she was of Baillie and said that she wasn’t just a niece but also a friend. To her, Taliyah was her ‘little buddy’ and a ‘breath of fresh air’.
"She died alone, scared and afraid, I know that for sure. I don't know how my family will ever be free from that image,” she said.
She addressed Downey directly and told him that ‘he didn't have the right to decide their lives didn't matter because they mattered to us.’
Scott Hamilton said Downey’s acts were ‘utterly senseless acts of evil’ and there are no words to describe how he feels.
He asked the judge for the maximum sentence for Downey and said it needed to be one ‘where even my children will not have to attend one parole board hearing.’
The Crown then read statements from Baillie’s brother Michael and from AB, whose name is protected under a publication ban. AB was Baillie’s best friend and Downey’s former girlfriend.
Baillie’s mother’s statement was also read by the Crown. Janet Fredette said she talked to her daughter every day and that she ‘loved those two girls so much, my life feels so empty without them.’
After the morning break, the Crown presented its closing arguments and suggested that Downey face consecutive parole ineligibilities, which would mean he would not be eligible for parole for 50 years.
The Crown went over case law and said that Downey had already killed Baillie when he took Taliyah and that he considered his options and decided to kill her.
Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said there was a ‘cooling off’ period between the initial offence that may justify consecutive sentences.
The Crown pointed out that Downey would not necessarily be released after 25 or 50 years and said that the Parole Board would make that decision.
The prosecution wrapped its final arguments just after noon.
Defence attorney, Gavin Wolch, addressed the court in the afternoon and said Downey has a criminal record but that he doesn’t have a history of violence.
Wolch said Downey should receive a sentence with concurrent parole ineligibility because there was no ‘cooling off’ period and that this was ‘one transaction.’
He said this sentence would give his client a sliver of hope while in prison and that 50 years would be a ‘custodial death sentence.’
Justice Beth Hughes told the court that she would reserve her decision in the hearing. The case is scheduled to resume Wednesday, March 13 when it's expected Hughes will set a date for sentencing.