Former pimp accused of murdering 5-year-old Calgary girl and mother wants 2 separate trials

A former pimp heading to trial in October, accused of murdering a Calgary woman and her five-year-old daughter, wants two separate trials.

Edward Downey currently set to be tried in October on 2 counts of 1st-degree murder

Edward Downey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie, right, 34, and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman, 5, centre. The pair were killed in July 2016. (CBC/Instagram/Facebook)

A former pimp heading to trial in October, accused of murdering a Calgary woman and her five-year-old daughter, wants two separate trials.

Edward Downey's lawyers Gavin Wolch and Meryl Friedland made the application before Justice Beth Hughes on Wednesday. After hearing arguments from both sides, Hughes has reserved her decision.

Sara Baillie, 34, and her daughter Taliyah Marsman were killed in July 2016. After Baillie failed to show up for work, police were called to her basement apartment in the northwest community of Panorama Hills.

Officers discovered Baillie's body and an Amber Alert was activated for the missing girl. After a week-long investigation, Marsman's body was discovered about eight kilometres east of Calgary near a rural road close to Chestermere. 

Downey's defence team has asked the judge to allow his two counts of first-degree murder to be severed, which would mean he'd be tried twice. 

The details discussed during the hearing — which include the reasons argued by the defence lawyers and Crown prosecutors Carla McPhail and Ryan Jenkins — are protected by a publication ban. 

Police have said Downey was known to both victims. The 48-year-old was already in police custody when investigators announced the girl's body had been found.

His criminal history involves convictions for pimping, drug trafficking and weapons offences dating back more than 25 years.

Following a preliminary inquiry last year, Downey was committed to stand trial on two counts of first-degree murder.

Hughes will make her decision on the severance application in March.


Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at or follow her on Twitter.