Double murderer Edward Downey wants mistrial based on juror's political connections

The lawyer for a man who murdered a Calgary mother and her five-year-old daughter wants a mistrial because of one juror's political connections.

Downey convicted of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder by a jury in December

Edward Downey murdered a mother and child on July 11, 2016, dumping the body of the girl in a rural area. Now his lawyer wants a mistrial based on political connections of one of the jurors. (Court exhibit )

The lawyer for a man who murdered a Calgary mother and her five-year-old daughter wants a mistrial declared because of one juror's political connections.

A publication ban prevents the media from publishing any details that could identify the juror.

In December, a jury convicted Edward Downey of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman, 5.

The mother and daughter were killed on July 11, 2016. Both died by asphyxiation.

The Crown argued Baillie was murdered because Downey, 48, blamed her for his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend — the victim's best friend — and that Taliyah was murdered because she would have been able to identify her mother's killer.

Provincial and federal connections

Defence lawyer Gavin Wolch has made an application for a judicial review that would examine the juror's political connections to determine if she is considered ineligible to serve on a jury. 

"This was certainly not foreseen," said Wolch when explaining why the issue with the juror's employment was not brought up until after the verdict.

The Jury Act lists several categories that would exclude people with particular political jobs from serving.

The juror in question is active with both provincial and federal parties. 

Justice Beth Hughes heard arguments from Wolch and prosecutor Carla MacPhail on Monday.

Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman were killed in July 2016. Edward Downey was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. (Facebook)

In asking Hughes to decline Wolch's application, MacPhail argued both the juror's privacy interests and the secrecy of juror deliberations must be protected. 

Hughes will make her decision on the next step on May 21. 

Sentencing arguments have already taken place. If Hughes does not allow defence to move forward with an inquiry, a date for sentencing will then be set. 

The convictions come with an automatic life sentence, but Hughes will decide whether Downey must wait 25 or 50 years before he can apply for parole.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.