Hearing begins for former pimp accused of murdering Calgary mother and 5-year-old daughter

Former pimp accused of murdering mother and daughter to face jury in November 2018

A former pimp accused of murdering a five-year-old girl and her mother is one step closer to trial with his preliminary inquiry underway in Calgary. 

Edward Downey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the July 2016 deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and her daughter, Taliyah Marsman.

A preliminary inquiry is a hearing to determine whether there's sufficient evidence for the accused to be sent to trial.

The names of the witnesses and all of the evidence presented are protected by a publication ban.

Baillie's body was found in the basement suite she shared with her daughter in the northwest community of Panorama Hills.

Marsman was missing from the home when police discovered her mother's body.

After a nearly week-long Amber Alert and investigation involving roughly 100 police officers, Marsman's body was discovered about eight kilometres east of Calgary by a rural road near Chestermere.Downey has a criminal history involving pimping, drug trafficking and weapons offences dating back more than 25 years.

- TIMELINE | What we know about the deaths of Taliyah Marsman and Sara Baillie

He has been connected to a Nova Scotia-based organized crime group involved mostly in pimping and human trafficking called North Preston's Finest.

The Parole Board of Canada twice denied Downey's request to be released from prison for other offences in the past, citing his likelihood to commit "a violent offence" — particularly against a woman — if released.

Defence lawyer Gavin Wolch and Crown prosecutor Carla McPhail are running the hearing, which runs all week and then will continue for one more day in May. 

At the end of the hearing, provincial court Judge Gerry Meagher will decide whether or not there is enough evidence to send Downey to trial on the two charges. 

Downey has been in custody since his arrest.