Edward Downey's lawyer says his client went to Sara Baillie's home the morning she was killed but "he did not arrive alone" and when he left, the five-year-old girl's victim was still alive.
Downey is on trial accused of killing a Calgary girl and her mother in 2016. He began testifying in his own defense Wednesday morning after his lawyer Gavin Wolch told jurors "nobody intended to kill" Baillie.
The 48-year-old is on trial for two counts of first-degree murder. He has taken the stand where he is led through questions by Wolch.
There are no seats left in the gallery of the Calgary Courtroom. A second courtroom has been opened for the overflow.
So far, Downey has admitted to being a cocaine dealer with a criminal record that includes a pimping conviction. He has not yet dealt with the allegations that led to the murder charges.
'He was not there when it happened'
In his opening statement to jurors, Wolch said jurors have heard "some of the most difficult evidence" but there are still unanswered questions.
"Nobody intended to kill Ms. Baillie, as far as Mr. Downey is aware, he was not there when it happened," said Wolch.
Wolch said Downey left Baillie's home by himself on the morning of July 11, 2016.
"The last time Mr. Downey saw Taliyah Marsman … she was alive and well."
Downey has yet to name the person who claimed to be at Baillie's home with him the morning of the killings.
Baillie's body was found stuffed into a laundry hamper in her northwest Calgary home on July 11, 2016. Prosecutors believe the girl was killed the same day but it was not until three days later that her body was found dumping in a stand of bushes in the rural area east of the city.
On Tuesday, prosecutors Carla MacPhail and Ryan Jenkins closed their case after calling for more than two weeks' worth of witnesses and evidence.
Downey may provide an adjournment to explain how his fingerprints got into the duct tape that was wrapped around Baillie's head, neck and wrists.
The jury also heard that Downey's cellphone was in the area of Baillie's home in Panorama Hills the morning she was killed and later that day was connecting to cellphone towers near the site where the child's body was found.
Baillie and Downey's live-in girlfriend were best friends.
The two families spent time together and Baillie and her daughter were familiar with Downey. Just two days before the deaths, Baillie, her daughter, Downey, AB and AB's son all hung out together at the accused killer's home and everything "seemed fine," said Downey.
Downey's testimony continues
The girlfriend can be identified as AB because of a publication ban. She testified earlier in the trial.
The Crown's theory on the motives is that Downey may have blamed Baillie for encouraging AB to leave him and for preventing her from working as an escort.
The day before the killings, AB texted Downey telling him she wanted to break up.
But Downey explained that he and AB had talked about breaking up several times. Although he believed their relationship would eventually come to an end, after the most recent breakup text, they spent the night together and things "were good" between them, he said.
In a text message to a friend, Downey said, "I'm down to one bitch and she's square." AB testified that "square" is a term for a woman who refuses to escort.
Jurors also heard that Downey wanted AB to work as a prostitute but she had refused. Downey explained it had been a plan he and AB made together that never ended up working out.
MacPhail has also told jurors the prosecution believes the girl was murdered because she witnessed her mother's death, or at least the killer who was inside their home.
Downey's testimony continues Wednesday afternoon. MacPhail has not yet had the chance to cross-examine the accused.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Beth Hughes is in charge of the jury trial, which was scheduled to last until the end of this week.