Accused meant to kill daughter, argues Crown in final submissions at B.C. mother's murder trial
Warning: Disturbing content
VANCOUVER -- Almost three years since the body of seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found at the home of her mother, Kerry Ann Lewis, final arguments are now underway in Lewis’s first-degree murder trial.
Prosecutor Chris McPherson told the court the Crown’s theory is that Lewis sedated her daughter and then drowned her in the bathtub of her Langley apartment.
“The Crown submits Ms. Lewis meant to kill her daughter,” he said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
McPherson told the court for months leading up to Aaliyah’s death, Lewis had complained repeatedly to friends and family about her access to her daughter, which at the time involved two unsupervised visits a week, and also expressed resentment towards her ex-husband. The court heard Aaliyah’s father had custody of the little girl, following his separation from Lewis in 2016.
“The evidence is quite clear, in the Crown’s submission, that (Lewis’s) state of mind had been deteriorating,” McPherson said. “There was, at the very least, significant conflict in some of her closest relationships.”
During the trial, the court heard testimony that Lewis’s boyfriend had broken up with her, and she also was trying to get money back from a gifting club.
McPherson said on the morning of July 22, 2018, the day Aaliyah died, her mother picked her up from her father for a scheduled visit. McPherson told the court Lewis then visited a drug store, and purchased over the counter sleeping medication and an emergency single dose of Ativan.
McPherson said both the drug and the active ingredient in the sleeping medication were later found in the little girl’s system.
“It got there somehow,” he said, and added Aaliyah’s father had testified she was a healthy, active child who was rarely sick, and who never took medication on her own.
The child’s body was found later that same day in her mother’s apartment, next to the ensuite bathtub. McPherson told the court Aaliyah was wet and cold, and an autopsy revealed water in her stomach and sinus cavity.
Earlier in the trial, the court heard testimony from Lewis’s ex-boyfriend that the door to the unit had been blocked from the inside, with a bookshelf and some boxes. He testified when he and two friends arrived at the apartment that night so he could gather some things, Lewis “wasn’t speaking properly," and agreed she was slurring and appeared groggy. The court heard one of his friends testify about finding the little girl in the bathroom.
McPherson told the court there was evidence of intoxication, including testimony from witnesses who saw Lewis that night in her apartment, as well as an empty vodka bottle and partially empty whisky bottle found in the suite.
“Drunken intent is nevertheless intent,” he said. “It’s the Crown’s submission that for a person to be unable to appreciate that submerging a sedated child in water could cause the child’s death, that person would in effect need to be in a state of intoxication akin to automatism.”
McPherson also addressed the testimony of an pediatric neuropathologist called by the defence, who testified a pre-existing brain condition known as hydrocephalus combined with a blow to the head might have contributed to Aaliyah’s death.
“That is speculative at best,” he said. “One cannot take little bits of evidence and ignore the others.”
Aaliyah’s family members filled one side of the gallery during the Crown’s submissions, some wearing sparkling purple buttons bearing her name.
The trial began in October, and has heard from 22 Crown witnesses and one expert for the defence. The defence will make their final arguments next in the case, the remainder of which is scheduled for this week.