Calgary man who killed girlfriend found guilty of second-degree murder in her daughter’s death

A Calgary man who admitted to murdering his former girlfriend but denied killing her daughter has been found guilty of killing the young girl.

Robert Leeming, who is 36, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to the second-degree murder of Jasmine Lovett in 2019 but not guilty in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.

Leeming was convicted of second-degree murder Monday in connection with the death of the little girl.

His lawyer said during closing arguments in November that there’s no evidence to prove Leeming was responsible for the girl’s death.

Leeming testified he was looking after Aliyah when she fell down some stairs, then he found her limp and unresponsive when he checked on her later.

He said he snapped when Lovett accused him of doing something to her child and struck her several times with a hammer before coming back with a rifle and shooting her in the head.

The bodies of the mother and child were found buried in a shallow grave in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, in May 2019 after they went missing weeks earlier.

It was a gut-wrenching experience for the family as they waited for Monday’s verdict.

Jodi Sanderson, Aliyah’s grandmother, wept in the courtroom as the judge convicted Leeming in the death of her 22-month old granddaughter. 

Leeming pleaded not guilty to her death in November, but the judge concluded that his testimony was not believable. 

The judge noted in his decision that Leeming knowingly committed an unlawful act of assault against Aliyah that resulted in her death.         

Leeming sat in a grey sweater in court on Monday morning with his head down, showing little emotion. 

“His actions and demeanour were nothing but disturbing,” said Sanderson. 

“At one point, they thought he was falling asleep, so we stopped for a little bit to wake him up which was extremely weird,” added Lovett’s mother, Kim Blankert.        

For the victims’ family, today marks the beginning of a healing journey.

“I actually wanted to get up and hug the judge but I know that would have looked super weird,” said Blankert. “We’re pleased that we got justice and relieved that is over.”

A sentencing date has not been confirmed. A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence but the duration of Leeming’s parole exclusion will be determined.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News’ Austin Lee.

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