Calgary murder trial told slain girl seen with man fitting accused's description

CALGARY — Loved ones wept in court Wednesday as a retired couple described seeing a girl drive off with someone resembling the man accused of killing her.

Edward Downey, 48, is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter Taliyah Marsman.

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Douglas and Sharry Jesson testified they lived in the same Calgary neighbourhood as the mother and daughter and were both home on July 11, 2016, the day Baillie was found dead in her basement apartment.

They described looking out their side window and seeing a white car park outside.

Douglas Jesson said he saw a dark-haired girl walking in front of a stocky black man from the white car to a sedan with tinted windows on the other side of the street.

The trial has already heard that Baillie had a white Ford Fusion and Downey would drive his then-girlfriend's car, which was a grey Dodge Charger with dark windows.

Douglas Jesson said the man was carrying a red suitcase and the girl had red rainboots with white polka dots.

When he testified that it appeared the girl had been crying, loved ones in the courtroom sobbed loudly and embraced one another. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Beth Hughes ordered a break.

The Jessons said the girl appeared to be 10 years old. The trial has already heard Taliyah was tall for her age.

Sharry Jesson said she was looking out her kitchen window off and on while she was having lunch.

"There was a gentleman and little girl standing beside the car," she said, referring to the white vehicle. She said she only saw the pair from the back.

She said the girl's hair seemed to be mostly brown with some blond. During cross-examination, Downey's lawyer, Gavin Wolch, noted an earlier statement she made in which she described the girl's hair as mostly blond.

Sharry Jesson said she didn't see the pair get into the car across the street, which she said might have been teal-green or teal-blue.

"The next time I seen that car, they were driving away," she said. "He was going fairly fast."

Both Jessons said the man with the little girl was wearing a fedora-like hat.

Downey's former girlfriend testified earlier that she had only ever seen him wear a baseball cap or tuque.

Sgt. Darren Smith showed jurors images captured from cameras on buses, taxis and nearby homes that helped police piece together the movements of the Fusion and Charger.

They show the Fusion was outside Baillie's home until at least 10:13 a.m. and the Charger was on an adjacent street until at least noon.

Images of both cars were captured on the Jessons' street just before 1:30 p.m. and the Charger is seen driving away.

Three days later, Taliyah's body was found under a bush in a rural area east of the city.

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