Ex-boyfriend of Langley woman on trial says door was blocked the night her daughter's body was found
VANCOUVER -- Warning: This article and the attached video contain content that may be disturbing for some viewers.
The ex-boyfriend of a Langley, B.C., woman accused of killing her young daughter testified the door was blocked at their apartment when he returned to the suite the night Aaliyah Rosa's body was discovered.
Kim Stephany told the court he and two friends had come back to the two-bedroom unit he shared with Kerry Ann Lewis on the evening of July 22, 2018, to retrieve some of his belongings.
Stephany testified he had broken up with Lewis that morning following an argument.
Stephany said when he tried to open the apartment door, it wouldn't budge initially.
"I realized there's stuff blocking the door," he said. "I pushed it enough so I could squeeze through."
Once on the other side, Stephany testified, he moved a bookshelf and some boxes.
Police photos of the apartment shared in court showed stacks of boxes near the door, as well as a large rectangular item which Stephany identified as the bookshelf.
Stephany testified he also tried to open the door of the master bedroom, but couldn't, and knocked and called Lewis's name through the door.
"Seemed like something was blocking the door," he said. He testified that after a discussion about calling an ambulance, he then heard "rumbling" sounds from the other side, and Lewis opened the door.
Stephany told the court Lewis wasn't speaking properly. In cross-examination, he agreed with the defence that Lewis was slurring, drooling a little, and appeared groggy.
Stephany testified he also answered two phone calls while waiting for Lewis to open a safe containing some of his personal documents: one from Rosa's father, who Stephany told Lewis was busy and would call him back, and the other from police asking if he had seen Lewis's daughter.
Stephany told the court he had thought the seven-year-old was with her father, and then one of his friends found the little girl's body in the ensuite bathroom.
Lewis is charged with first-degree murder. The Crown said it intends to prove she sedated her daughter and drowned her in a bathtub. The defence has not yet presented its case.
Earlier in the trial, the Crown told the court Rosa's father had custody, and Lewis had two unsupervised visits a week.
On Monday, the court heard testimony that the unsupervised visits had only begun three months prior to the girl's death, and before that, they were supervised.
The Crown said Lewis had picked up her daughter for one of those visits on the morning of July 22, and when the little girl wasn't returned as scheduled, her father called police.
The court also heard testimony from the primary investigator on the case, Cpl. Banveer Lali with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Lali was questioned by prosecutor Kristen LeNoble about a number of materials from Lewis's phone, including text messages, photos and videos.
The corporal testified there were messages where Lewis spoke about feeling upset regarding the level of access she had to her daughter.
The investigator also told the court she was aware there were a number of communications reflecting an acrimonious relationship between Lewis and Rosa's father, particularly when it came to custody issues.
LeNoble read some of the messages sent by Lewis, including one to her aunt that said, "He doesn't want me to have Aaliyah."
LeNoble also read a message sent by Lewis in a later text conversation with her aunt, where the idea of leaving B.C. was discussed, and how she couldn't do that.
"I wish I could just leave with her and never look back," the message said.
In response to questions from LeNoble, Cpl. Lali agreed there were also indications of repeated instances where Lewis tried to connect with her daughter for a 7 p.m. call in June and July of 2018.
She agreed while it's impossible to know for certain, there appeared to be many occasions where that call didn't happen, something Stephany had testified also upset Lewis.
The court also heard the Crown read messages related to Lewis wanting to get an investment back from a gifting club, saying she needed the money for lawyer fees and other expenses.
Police have referred to gifting clubs as pyramid schemes, where participants are asked to invest an amount of money and then bring more people in, with the promise of a larger return.
The court also viewed a video from Lewis's phone captured on the morning of July 22, the day of Rosa's death.
Lali testified Lewis often recorded pick-ups and drop-offs of Rosa. In the video, which begins and ends inside a vehicle, a truck identified by Cpl. Lali as belonging to Rosa's father pulls up, and a man's voice can be heard.
Lali told the court there doesn't appear to be any response to the man, but Lewis is heard once inside the vehicle, responding to a child's voice by saying in part: "Anytime I say anything to your dad...he lies and blows it out of proportion...it's best that mommy not say anything to daddy".
Cpl. Lali's testimony will continue on Tuesday.