CALGARY — A Crown prosecutor raised the possibility of an even more sinister reason for the death of a Calgary woman and her 22-month-old daughter two years ago.
Robert Leeming, 36, has already pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend Jasmine Lovett but denies he killed Aliyah Sanderson.
The bodies of the two victims were found buried in a shallow grave west of Calgary in Kananaskis Country in May 2019 after going missing weeks earlier.
Leeming has admitted to hitting Lovett on the head with a hammer and then shooting her in the head, but said Aliyah died of injuries she sustained in a fall earlier that day. He said when he discovered the little girl was limp and unresponsive, Lovett accused him of doing something to her daughter and he snapped and killed her.
Prosecutor Doug Taylor said Thursday at Leeming’s murder trial that the description of events doesn’t make sense.
“You are saying that Jasmine gave her dead baby to you and you’re saying that Jasmine came downstairs to confront you rather than going for her own phone to call 911 or running out the door, correct?” he asked.
“This goes from what did you do to my child to your going straight for a hammer.”
Taylor noted that evidence from the deputy medical examiner showed that Aliyah had suffered an injury to her vaginal area that was suspicious.
“She was accusing you of something even worse. Maybe she even caught you doing it?” asked Taylor.
“No she did not,” Leeming replied.
In his earlier testimony Thursday, Leeming admitted to taking steps to misdirect the investigation, including removing Aliyah’s crib and stroller to make it appear they had moved out.
He also said he sent texts to Lovett’s phone — after she and her toddler were already dead — to say he had taken Aliyah to daycare and another one later suggesting they get pizza for dinner. Two unsent texts a week later said he knew Lovett was moving out and that she needed to check in because police were looking for her.
“I know you were talking about moving, haven’t seen you in a couple days. Just wondering when you were going to pick up the rest of your things,” read one unsent text from April 21, 2109.
Three days later: “Hey you OK. The CPS is looking for you here. Please call me. It’s urgent or call 911.”
“It was misdirection,” Leeming told Taylor.
“That’s what you call it? I call it lying,” said Taylor.
Taylor asked Leeming about the day he bludgeoned Lovett with a hammer and then shot her in the head with a rifle.
“What did it sound like when you discharged a rifle and you killed Jasmine?” Taylor asked.
Leeming replied that .22-calibre firearms are actually pretty quiet.
“There’s no bigger moment in your life, I’m going to suggest to you, than when you shot Jasmine Lovett in the head. Correct?” Taylor asked.
“Correct,” replied Leeming.
“I’m going to suggest to you that it was loud. Was it?”
“Not that loud,” said Leeming.
Taylor cited dozens of untruthful comments Leeming made to police and to media.
At the end of the proceedings Thursday he said Leeming’s version of events was not believable.
“Aliyah didn’t die from that fall Mr. Leeming. Did she?” Taylor said.
“After all the lies you’ve told this is your chance to tell the truth.”
“I am,” Leeming said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press