The numerous injuries sustained by five-year-old Taliyah Marsman before her death could not have been self-inflicted, according to a pathologist who conducted her autopsy more than two years ago.
Medical examiner Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo’s testimony continued Tuesday at the double-murder trial of Calgarian Edward Downey, which has reached its seventh day.
After describing the autopsy results of Taliyah’s mother, Sara Baillie, on Monday, Adeagbo told court the girl likely died of asphyxia, although the “mode” of Taliyah’s death was unclear.
Downey, 48, faces two charges of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Baillie and Taliyah, whose body was found in a stand of bushes east of Calgary three days after her mother’s death.
Baillie’s body was found in the basement suite she shared with her daughter after she failed to show up for work and her daughter was missing.
As jurors were shown photos from her autopsy, Adeagbo told Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail that Taliyah suffered numerous scrapes on her forehead and the back of her neck, as well as further injuries to her scalp.
The left, upper part of Taliyah’s back was also injured following her death, which Adeagbo said could be indicative of her body being moved over a brush or twigs.
Adeagbo conducted the autopsy on Taliyah the day after her body was discovered on July 14, 2016.
Taliyah’s body also showed signs of petechiae — small, round spots visible on the skin — which Adeagbo attributed to a likely imbalance in her blood flow. He said Taliyah might have experienced an impediment in her blood flow to the heart and lung tissue.
While it’s unclear what caused her likely asphyxiation — lack of oxygen that would have led to her death — Adeagbo said it’s possible Taliyah was smothered or strangled.
“In this case, there is no other logical mechanism to explain this process,” Adeagbo told defence lawyer Gavin Wolch when asked what other possible ways the girl might have died.
“I don’t see any alternative mechanism.”
He added that whatever happened to Taliyah could not have been self-inflicted.
Adeagbo also conducted an autopsy on Baillie’s body on July 13, 2016, two days after police found her corpse hidden in her daughter’s closet.
The pathologist told court Monday there were multiple scrapes and bruises on Baillie’s body and her brain was slightly swollen.
The court also heard Tuesday from a pair of witnesses who were instrumental in turning in to police a cellphone connected to the investigation.
Mark Leckie testified he and his family had been visiting friends in Calgary in July 2016, staying at their home in the northwest community of Panorama Hills.
On the evening of July 12, Leckie took his kids to a nearby park down the street from the home, where he found a Samsung cellphone and picked it up. He said he left it with his friends at their home.
Heather Hubert, whose family was hosting Leckie’s, said the phone remained at her home for the next few days.
She said she was able to turn it on by plugging it into the wall to charge the day after it was found and, without knowing the phone’s passcode, she was then able to reset it in order to access its contents.
Hubert said she could see there were 15 missed calls on the phone. She was also able to access the phone’s saved contacts, finding the name of Taliyah, as well as the number for a local Chili’s restaurant, where Baillie worked.
Hubert said she recognized these as possible links to the police investigation, which she had heard about through the media that week. She said she took the phone to police and gave a statement.
The trial resumes Wednesday.
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