Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS 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 Monday.

Trial begins for man accused in death of Calgary woman Dawns Baptiste in 2015

CALGARY — A murder trial has begun for a man accused of raping a woman and then hitting her in the head with a rock in 2015.

Curtis Healy has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail told jurors Baptiste and Healy were both on a transit train the last night she was seen alive.

Two days later, Baptiste’s body was found face down in a northeast Calgary backyard with her pants and underwear pulled down and one boot removed.

MacPhail says the Crown intends to show that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that DNA from blood and hair on a rock matched Baptiste’s.

She said Healy told police after his arrest that he used the rock to “finish her off.”

An expert will testify that blood on Healy’s shoe matches Baptiste’s DNA and that semen found on Baptiste matches Healy’s, MacPhail told court Monday.

Loved ones sat in court wearing red T-shirts with a photo of a smiling woman with glasses and pink hair. On them was written: “In loving memory of Dawns Echoes Baptiste” along with the dates of her birth and death.

Her brother, Alex Baptiste, described in court how he, his sister and his then-common law wife met up downtown on Feb. 10, 2015, and headed to a McDonald’s restaurant in northwest Calgary to eat.

He said his sister was upset that day because she couldn’t find where one of her four children had a dentist’s appointment and that she was unable to see her son.

After supper, the Baptiste siblings headed back downtown by train and got separated.

That was the last time Alex Baptiste saw his sister alive. He said he thought she intended to stay with a close friend in northeast Calgary in the same neighbourhood where her body was found.

Outside court, Alex Baptiste said he plans to be there throughout the trial, which had previously been scheduled to take place last year.

“It’s pretty hard because we wanted to finally put our sister to rest and now that we’re finally able to do that, I hope that everybody will do more for other missing and murdered Indigenous women out there,” he said, describing his sister as a loving, outgoing mother.

The Baptistes are members of the Samson Cree Nation south of Edmonton.

“I’m going to be there ‘til we get justice for her and make sure that justice is going to happen for other families out there that are coping with the same loss too.”

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