CALGARY — A stroller, a child's cursive writing book and burnt material were found near where Calgary police unearthed the bodies of a mother and daughter in a shallow grave southwest of the city in May 2019.
Forensic investigator Const. Jim Weeks told the second-degree murder trial of Robert Leeming Thursday that a fire pit and a nearby culvert were searched after the remains of Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson were found under the dirt, wrapped in blankets.
They had disappeared just two weeks before Lovett's 26th birthday.
Leeming, a 36-year-old British citizen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the death of Lovett, but not guilty in the girl's death. During the investigation, he told undercover officers the location of their bodies.
Weeks testified that police found purple material within the firepit and metal tubing of what appeared to be a child stroller folded and under the bough of a tree. He said more evidence was found in a crushed culvert 50 to 75 metres from the bodies.
"There is burnt debris. It's charred. The colour is in complete contrast of what is natural to that area. We're seeing burnt parchment along with other interesting artifacts within that culvert," Weeks testified.
On closer inspection, Weeks said there was purple material with silver stars similar to that found in the fire pit. The parchment turned out to be a child's cursive writing book and there was the sole of a burnt shoe.
"What does stand out to me as the forensic investigator ... this in my opinion is another sole. It's likely related to a piece of footwear. It's likely a tread pattern," said Weeks.
"It's a geometric pattern that captures my eye immediately. In my mind, I'm drawing the conclusion that there's material that has been taken from the fire pit and just disposed of into this culvert."
Lovett and Leeming met on a dating app in September 2018. She and her daughter moved in a month later.
Leeming and the two victims attended a family gathering just two days before the Crown believes they were murdered.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press