As closing arguments continued Wednesday in the trial of a Vancouver Island man accused of murdering his two young daughters, defence zeroed in on some key witnesses while questioning their credibility.
Andrew Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, whose bodies were found in his Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day, 2017.
Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough spent Tuesday pointing at inconsistencies with forensic evidence produced at trial, calling Crown’s version of events as “circumstantial.”
On Wednesday, McCullough continued to pick apart Crown’s case by highlighting the testimonies of the first RCMP officers who arrived at the scene.
Oak Bay police Const. Pitor Ulanowski and Sgt. Michael Martin were questioned back at the start of the trial in April, when they described what they found after entering Berry’s apartment.
The court heard Ulanowski had called Martin to the scene after conducting a welfare check at the home, only to find what Ulanowski described as a “bloodbath” inside.
WATCH: (Sept. 17) Closing arguments begin in Andrew Berry trial
McCullough told the jury the two officers’ testimonies did not line up with each other, noting one of them was visibly traumatized by what they experienced.
Both Ulanowski and Martin choked up at various times during their testimonies, with Martin breaking down in tears at one point.
Martin also told the court he contacted Berry’s sister, a RCMP officer, who he said told him Berry was depressed and encountering financial difficulty that led to his electricity being cut off.
He added Berry’s sister, whose name can’t be released because of a publication ban, had added Berry was a good father and would not harm his children.
Berry has since testified his sister believed he was guilty, describing a tense meeting in hospital shortly after Berry was found in his bathtub suffering from several stab wounds.
McCullough questioned the sister’s motives, suggesting she had an “agenda” rooted in self-preservation. He also suggested she urged Berry to play the “crazy card” and declare insanity under the Mental Health Act.
WATCH: (Sept. 3) More evidence released in Andrew Berry trial
The court has heard Berry suffered from depression and had attempted suicide a month before the killings due to a severe gambling debt, which made him unable to pay his bills and fear he’d lose custody of his daughters.
Crown has suggested Berry’s wounds on Christmas Day were self-inflicted, describing it as a final suicide attempt after hitting rock bottom.
Both Berry and his defence have maintained he was attacked by a person connected to a loan shark named “Paul” he owned a significant gambling debt to, and woke up later to discover his daughters had been killed.
The court has heard previously no DNA of a fourth person was found inside the apartment.
McCullough reminded the jury Tuesday that no DNA from the children was found on Berry’s clothing, and no evidence was presented to prove his stab wounds were self-inflicted.
The defence on Wednesday also questioned why the nurses and doctor who treated Berry’s wounds acted as though he was the man responsible for killing Chloe and Aubrey.
McCullough’s suggestion to the jury throughout the trial has been that police were too quick to pin the murders on Berry, treating him as the killer from the moment officers found him.
Earlier in the trial, he told the jury police had made a critical mistake by leaving the crime scene unattended for about five minutes, leaving plenty of time for the real killer to escape.
On Wednesday, McCullough impressed upon the jury to use common sense when evaluating the testimony as they work to reach a verdict, saying the only testimony they can trust is Berry’s.
Closing arguments are expected to continue Thursday.
— With files from Rumina Daya