'Biggest regret I'll ever have': Emotional testimony at Andrew Berry murder trial
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2019 9:52AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 9, 2019 6:36PM PDT
Her voice breaking, Sarah Cotton testified her about how her two young daughters never got the chance to try a kids' yoga program she had emailed their father about in late 2017.
The reason: "It started in 2018, after they died," she told the court Tuesday.
It was one of many emails, texts, and phone call logs read out by Andrew Berry’s defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, as he cross-examined Cotton during the second day of her testimony at Berry’s second-degree murder trial.
Berry is accused of killing six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey, whose bodies were found in his Victoria apartment on Christmas Day in 2017. The Crown said they had both been stabbed multiple times. Berry has pleaded not guilty.
Cotton repeatedly denied the defence's suggestion that she and Berry, her former common-law partner, discussed co-parenting matters face-to-face.
“Andrew did not communicate with me face-to-face,” Cotton replied at one point.
McCullough persisted with the line of questioning throughout the day, suggesting the reason Cotton’s messages didn’t include complaints about Berry’s lack of updates on the children was because he was updating her in person. Cotton disagreed with the suggestion.
“No, that’s incorrect,” she said.
McCullough asked Cotton if she would characterize one text exchange between them as “pleasant." Cotton replied it’s hard to read into a text, and said it seemed “amicable." When the defence lawyer suggested a later exchange was “meaningful” in terms of a parenting conversation, Cotton replied she wasn’t sure about that.
“On my end, I guess you would call that meaningful,” Cotton testified.
The day concluded with messages from December, the month the girls were found dead.
McCullough read an email from Berry to Cotton suggesting she could keep the girls overnight on her birthday, Dec. 21. He called it a “nice” offer. Cotton replied it was an “unusual” offer.
On Monday, Cotton told the court she had replied and thanked him, but let him know she had plans and would stick to the schedule.
She testified when she drove the girls to his place, she noticed the lights were off and remarked that it didn’t look like he was home. She testified that Chloe told her he was there and added: “We use flashlights. It’s just like camping.” Cotton testified it made her think his hydro was shut off, and later said she asked the girls if they were cold there, but they said no.
Cotton also testified she drove the girls back to Berry’s apartment after delivering presents to friends. She told the court she didn’t ask about the hydro right at that moment.
“I didn’t want to provoke him in front of the girls,” she testified, and added she wanted to keep the peace because it was Christmas.
When McCullough asked Cotton about dropping the girls off when she had concerns about the power, she tearfully replied: “That is the biggest regret I’ll ever have in my life.”
Cotton told the court Monday she emailed Berry about her concerns regarding the hydro afterwards, but never got a response.
She also testified the last time she saw her daughters alive was the next day, Dec. 22. She told the court she returned to Berry’s building to drop off a stuffed animal for Chloe, and the girls met her in the lobby.
“They were so happy,” Cotton testified, and added they asked her how many nights until they would see her again.
She told the court she hugged both girls and told them she loved them.
In the Crown’s opening statement in April, prosecutor Clare Jennings told the court Berry had animosity towards Cotton, and his own parents, and was also in a “negative financial position”.
The defence has not yet presented its case. The proceedings are also being streamed live to a Victoria courthouse for public viewing.
Cotton is set to take the stand again on Wednesday.
CTV News Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber was tweeting live from court. Here's a recap.