Local

Jury deliberating in case of Calgary man charged with murdering Dawns Baptiste

CALGARY—Jurors are to continue deliberating Friday whether a man accused of raping and killing a Calgary mother of four is guilty of first-degree murder or a lesser charge.

The jury was given instructions by Queen’s Bench Justice Charlene Anderson on Thursday and they deliberated until 9 p.m. without reaching a verdict.

Alex Baptiste, left, speaks to reporters alongside his cousin Verlyn Baptiste after he testified about the last time he saw his sister Dawns Baptiste alive, at the Calgary courthouse.
Alex Baptiste, left, speaks to reporters alongside his cousin Verlyn Baptiste after he testified about the last time he saw his sister Dawns Baptiste alive, at the Calgary courthouse.  (Lauren Krugel / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Anderson told the jurors they could acquit Healy or convict him of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter in the death of Dawns Baptiste, 31.

The Crown accused Healy, 29, of throwing Baptiste to the sidewalk, stomping her head, hitting her with a bottle, dragging her through a hedge, raping her in a back yard and then hitting her in the head with a large rock.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Article Continued Below

In closing arguments, prosecutor Carla MacPhail said because the murder, sexual assault and unlawful confinement were part of the same series of events, Healy should be convicted of first-degree murder.

The defence didn’t dispute that Healy was responsible for Baptiste’s death and that he sexually assaulted her.

But lawyer Shamsher Kothari told the jury in his closing arguments that the sequence of events was unclear, so Healy should be found guilty of second-degree murder.

Jurors heard Baptiste was on her way to stay at a friend’s house when she met Healy on a light-rail transit train.

Baptiste never made it to her destination. A day later, she was found in a stranger’s backyard, her lower body exposed.

The jury saw a video of a statement Healy made to police saying he was angry when Baptiste told him to go away and that he used the rock to “finish her off.”

The defence argued the statement is unreliable, in part because Healy is low-functioning and was parroting what the detective was saying.

Several loved ones were in the gallery on Thursday, many wearing red T-shirts with a photo of a smiling, pink-haired and bespectacled Baptiste and the dates of her birth and death.