Warning: disturbing content
When describing the testimony of Andrew Berry at his second degree murder trial, Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir told the jury in his closing arguments: "It's like the plot from a bad, low-budget movie."
Berry has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of his two young daughters, four-year-old Aubrey and six-year-old Chloe, who were found dead in their beds in their father’s Victoria apartment on Christmas Day, 2017. Both had been stabbed multiple times, and a pathologist testified Chloe also suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Berry was found naked and injured in the bathtub, and testified he was stabbed by an unknown attacker after spending the day taking the girls out sledding. The crown’s theory is Berry killed his daughters Christmas morning, then tried to kill himself, all of which he has denied.
Weir told the jury there is no credible evidence the little girls ever got out of their beds that morning, pointing out both were still in their pajamas and had no food in their stomachs, and nobody heard them that day. He also noted there were still-unopened presents under the tree in Berry’s apartment.
“Once you reject Mr. Berry’s preposterous, impossible story – and you must – you are left with overwhelming evidence that Chloe and Aubrey died in that apartment on Christmas Day, 2017, and equally overwhelming evidence that Mr. Berry is the only person who could have killed them,” Weir said.
Weir argued Berry’s testimony about what happened that day was a lie.
“In short, ladies and gentlemen, he told you a yarn,” Weir said. “We clearly cannot hear what Aubrey and Chloe might want to tell us. All we have is the story from Andrew Berry, and you’re not required to accept that story.”
Weir told the jury Berry was the only person with the opportunity to commit the crime, and a motive. He argued Berry had anger and resentment towards the girls mother, Sarah Cotton, that had been festering for years.
“He is the only person who lied, fabricated, and attempted to mislead you,” Weir said. “You don’t need to know why Mr. Berry would do this. And quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, there is no reason that he could ever give, that anyone could ever give, that would make sense of this or justify these actions. The real question, the only question for you is, was it Andrew Berry?”
Weir said by December 2017, Berry had no money, was deep in debt, had no electricity in his place, and was behind on his rent.
“He was so destitute, he didn’t even have food for the girls,” Weir said, and told the court Berry couldn’t remember what they had eaten for supper on Christmas Eve. He added there was no visible evidence Berry could point to of the oatmeal he said he had made for the girls on Christmas morning.
Berry had testified he owed $25,000 to a loan shark named Paul as a result of gambling, and had eventually agreed to store bags in his place for Paul and ultimately handed over a spare set of house keys at Paul’s request. Weir suggested to the jury Paul does not exist, and questioned if the defence theory is the killer is someone with a connection to Paul, why Berry wouldn’t have remembered more than just a generic description of the man he testified he had known for two decades. Weir also suggested the testimony about the house keys was a way to try and explain why there were no signs of forced entry at the apartment.
Weir said Berry displayed a pattern of not accepting responsibility in his life, and blamed others for his situation. He argued Berry believed Cotton was scheming to try and get him out of her life, and out of the girls' lives, and knew she had the right, the willingness, and the resources to take them away from him on Dec. 25.
Weir argued Berry realized once he returned the girls to Cotton as scheduled at noon on Christmas Day, he would not see them again for a while, and suggested if he couldn’t have them, she wouldn’t either.
“In the end, Mr. Berry was destined to survive this nightmare he created,” Weir said.
Weir asked the jurors whether it made sense to them that Berry testified his daughters spent hours walking and sledding on Christmas day, while barely eating or drinking, and without going to the bathroom or arguing.
Weir also questioned the defence theory the scene was “staged” to look like a murder-suicide, and asked the jury if that was the case, why the killer left Berry alive in the bathtub. He suggested there was a stark contrast between the injuries to Berry, and the more than 50 stab wounds the girls suffered between them.
“These were crimes of emotion,” Weir told the jury.
In his conclusion, Weir told the court: “The evidence is clear Mr. Berry loved his children. But unfortunately we know that parents sometimes kill their children even though they love them.”
The judge has told the jury she will now give them her final instructions on Tuesday, before deliberations can begin.
CTV News Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber is covering the case live from court. Follow along, and read back through past coverage.