Calgary

Edward Downey tried to pimp out victim's best friend, jurors hear at double murder trial

Just days before a Calgary mother and daughter were slain, their accused killer, Edward Downey, made it clear in text messages to his girlfriend that he did not like her best friend, Sara Baillie.

Edward Downey faces charges of 1st-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman

Edward Downey, 48, has been in custody since his arrest. His jury trial is set to last until December 14, 2018. (CBC)

Just days before a Calgary mother and daughter were murdered, their accused killer, Edward Downey, made it clear in text messages to his girlfriend that he did not like her best friend, Sara Baillie.

Downey called Baillie a "disrespectful pot and horn dog." 

"She is bad," he said on July 2, 2016, before threatening violence against his girlfriend, who was out partying with Baillie, her best friend.

The girlfriend can only be identified as AB. She testified on Tuesday, Day 2 of Downey's murder trial. 

The 48-year-old is on trial facing two counts of first-degree murder, accused of killing Baillie and Baillie's daughter, Taliyah Marsman, 5. The mother and daughter were found dead in July 2016.

AB testified behind a screen — jurors and members of the gallery could see her but Downey could not. Justice Beth Hughes told jurors the screen had nothing to do with Downey's guilt or innocence.

Baillie and AB had been best friends for about two years, "we were together all the time," said the witness. 

The two spent time at each other's home and with each other's family. AB said Downey had been to Baillie's home and Baillie had spent time at her home. 

Downey was the brother of AB's father's girlfriend. He and AB met when she was 13 years old and he was 29.

Though they didn't become intimate for another 16 years, he told her when she was younger that they were "going to be together."

'We were on bad terms'

AB, who is now 32, lived with Downey in a townhouse in the northeast. AB's mother owned the house and AB paid the mortgage and other bills. Her eight-year-old son lived with them.

By July 2016, the relationship between Downey and AB had deteriorated — he had hit her in the face and she had refused to begin working for him as a prostitute, court heard.

"[We were] fighting a lot … we were on bad terms," said AB.

AB said Baillie "was afraid for me" after Downey punched her in the face on June 12, 2016, leaving her with a black eye.

Prosecutor Carla MacPhail asked if Baillie had ever expressed her views on escorting. AB said "she would never do it."

Fingerprints on duct tape

The witness also said Baillie's ex-boyfriend E.J. had tried to get Baillie to escort but she'd refused, and AB said she believed that may have been why her friend and E.J. had broken up.

On Monday, MacPhail suggested to jurors that Downey may have blamed Baillie for his girlfriend trying to leave him and refusing to work as an escort.

Baillie's battered body was discovered stuffed into a laundry hamper in her daughter's bedroom closet on July 11, 2016.

That was the day after AB texted Downey to tell him: "pack your bags."

Downey's fingerprints were on a piece of duct tape that had been wrapped around her head, neck and wrists. 

An Amber Alert was issued for the girl. But her body was found three days later in a stand of bushes east of the city. 

Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman were killed in July 2016. (Facebook)

AB refused to escort for Downey

The only income the unemployed Downey ever had, that AB knew about, was when he pimped out his previous girlfriend.

"That's how he made his money," said AB.

AB was working to support her son and Downey, who did not have a job. Downey had access to her bank account but when money got tight he asked her to escort, or work as a prostitute, she explained. 

AB says she initially agreed and the couple drove to Edmonton. But once inside the home of a client, she couldn't do it and backed out before having sex with him.

Downey's cellphone

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Gavin Wolch, AB said she met with police about nine times after Baillie and Taliyah were killed.

When Wolch asked if AB thought Baillie's basement apartment was too expensive for her friend, she said "it was."

AB also confirmed that her decision not to escort for Downey was not the primary reason their relationship had deteriorated. She said it had more to do with finances and that she spent time with family and friends. 

On Monday, jurors heard that data from Downey's cellphone showed that on the Monday she was killed, he had been in the area of Baillie's apartment and later that same day in the rural area where Taliyah's remains were discovered, prosecutor Carla MacPhail told jurors. 

It was that cellphone which helped lead police to the girl's body, MacPhail said. 

It is the Crown's theory that Taliyah was murdered because she witnessed her mother's death, or at least recognized the killer who was inside their home.

Downey is represented by defence lawyers Gavin Wolch and Meryl Friedland.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

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