Mother charged in murder of 7-year-old Aaliyah Rosa
Published Monday, August 20, 2018 9:00AM PDT Last Updated Monday, August 20, 2018 6:11PM PDT
Nearly a month after seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in her Langley, B.C. home, her mother has been charged with her murder.
Few details about what happened to Aaliyah have been made public since her body was discovered at a 68 Avenue apartment the night of July 22, but the disturbing crime sent shockwaves through her community.
On Monday, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team announced one count of second-degree murder has been approved against little girl's mother, 36-year-old Kerry-Ann Lewis.
“A seven year old girl was murdered. Was the victim of a homicide,” Cpl. Frank Jang said at a news conference.
“Even for me to speak those words is upsetting… This was a deeply tragic case that affected the entire community.”
Aaliyah's cause of death has still not been released, but IHIT took conduct of the case immediately and said early on that investigators had a strong indication of what had happened to her.
The homicide team described Aaliyah's killing as an "isolated incident," and said the public was never at risk.
Neighbours told CTV News they heard a woman screaming at the apartment complex hours before officers found Aaliyah dead, but it's unclear if the incidents are related.
While responding to the murder, police said a 36-year-old woman was taken for treatment of an unspecified medical issue.
Lewis appeared Monday afternoon in Surrey Provincial Court, and didn’t appear to be physically injured. She stayed silent, looking at the galley as lawyers put over her bail hearing to Aug. 28.
Aaliyah was remembered at a funeral service earlier this month, where loved ones wore her favourite colours, pink and purple, and described the youngster as a bubbly and free-spirited child who touched many lives.
In court filings, Lewis describes leaving her relationship with her “ex common law spouse,” Stephen Rosa, and says in as late as June 2018 that she is receiving CPP and is on long-term disability.
“I also pay child support for our shared minor child,” she says in one filing.
Concerns about that custody arrangement were raised with CTV News, which was the subject of a family court hearing, and why Aaliyah was with her mother, not her father, on July 22.
Attempts to get documents that would paint a more complete picture from the New Westminster Supreme Court were rebuffed, with the court registry referring to a blanket sealing order that affects all family court files in B.C.
In cases where a child’s custody has put him or her in a dangerous situation, B.C.’s Representative For Children And Youth can act on behalf of a child’s best interests.
But the representative doesn’t have jurisdiction over cases like Aaliyah’s that are family court files, a spokesperson said.
In another court filing, Lewis describes being “in and out of the hospital due to severe illness,” and claims that she was taken advantage of by a roommate who spent too much money on her credit card, which she had given access to “due to a lack of judgement when I was on my medication.”
Though Aaliyah's mother has already been charged, IHIT is continuing to investigate, and asked anyone who has information on the case but hasn’t spoken with police to come forward.