Defence for B.C. man accused of murdering daughters questions ex-partner’s reliability at trial
The lawyer for a Vancouver Island man accused of murdering his two daughters repeatedly questioned the reliability of the girls’ mother during trial proceedings Wednesday.
Andrew Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, whose bodies were found on Christmas Day 2017 in his Oak Bay apartment.
Wednesday marked the third day of testimony and cross-examination of Sarah Cotton, Berry’s former partner and the mother of Chloe and Aubrey.
Earlier in the week, Cotton gave testimony of how she became increasingly concerned when Berry failed to drop the girls off at noon on Christmas Day, and had gone to Berry’s apartment with his mother to look for them.
Berry’s mother spoke to a neigbour, who said she’d heard the girls awake and active that morning, the court heard. That’s when Cotton went to the police.
On Wednesday, Berry’s lawyer Kevin McCullough suggested inconsistencies in Cotton’s recollection of those events and in the days leading up to Dec. 25.
WATCH: (Aired July 9) Mother of two murdered girls on stand at trial of father
McCullough asked Cotton why she didn’t immediately call police if she was desperate to locate her children, why she couldn’t remember knocking on Berry’s apartment windows, or what she saw in the snow outside.
“My children died on Christmas Day, so my memory about the snow toys might not be perfect,” Cotton replied through tears.
“I wasn’t focused on snow toys. I was focused on finding my children alive.”
Defence is building a case that Berry, who was separated from Cotton, did not kill his daughters. They’re suggesting someone else could be responsible because of Berry’s gambling debts.
McCullough pressed Cotton on her memory of an instance in February, 10 months before the murders, when she saw a broken window at Berry’s apartment.
“Was it the case, Feb. 26, 2017, that you were worried about bad people being around Mr. Berry?” he asked.
“No,” Cotton replied. “I was worried about that broken window.”
WATCH: (Aired July 8) Trial of father accused of killing daughters sees surveillance video
McCullough countered, “Did you not write, ‘I just hope my kids are okay if he is involved with bad people?’”
“That was in regards to the window,” Cotton said.
Crown is trying to convince the jury Berry killed the girls because his world was falling apart, suggesting he was depressed over potentially losing his kids because he couldn’t pay rent or hydro.
The court has previously heard that Berry was found naked and seriously injured in the bathtub of his home when police arrived to conduct a welfare check on the girls.
Crown has alleged those wounds were self-inflicted and meant to be fatal.
Defence has pushed back against Crown’s version of events, questioning a firefighter’s memory of the day in question and suggesting police may have allowed another suspect to escape by leaving the scene unguarded for about five minutes.
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