The third day of closing arguments in the trial of a Vancouver Island man accused of killing his two daughters heard the defence suggest the crime scene was staged.
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 in his Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day, 2017.
Berry himself was found in the bathtub suffering from several stab wounds, which Crown has suggested were self-inflicted.
WATCH: Defence closing arguments continue in Andrew Berry murder trial
On Thursday, defence lawyer Kevin McCullough suggested the crime scene inside the apartment was made to look like a murder-suicide by the real killer.
Both Berry and his defence have maintained the father was attacked by a person connected to a loan shark named “Paul” to whom he owed a significant gambling debt, and woke up later to discover his daughters had been killed.
The court has heard Berry suffered from depression and had attempted suicide a month before the killings because of that debt, which made him unable to pay his bills and fear he’d lose custody of his daughters.
McCullough said the evidence and testimony provided by a blood spatter expert pointed to a lack of spatter on the headboard of the bed where Chloe and Aubrey’s bodies were found.
The lawyer said it’s likely the girls were not killed in their beds, but were instead put there by the murderer.
The girls were found stabbed more than 50 times and Chloe was struck with a bat, but McCullough told the jury some of those wounds were made after their deaths.
McCullough suggested the killer also moved Berry to the bathtub where he was found after attacking him.
Crown has suggested Berry slashed and stabbed his throat and chest and then laid down in the bathtub to die after he stabbed his daughters, which Berry denied during his testimony.
McCullough told the jury the blood spatter does not match with the sequence of events put forward by Crown, who have suggested the girls had likely been dead since 8 a.m. on Dec. 25.
Defence’s sequence of events places the killings that afternoon.
WATCH: Closing arguments begin in Andrew Berry trial
At best, McCullough said the evidence presented by Crown is only enough to pursue manslaughter charges, rather than second-degree murder.
The jury does have the option of convicting Berry of manslaughter if they don’t feel the criteria for the more severe charge — which carries a mandatory life sentence — is met.
“This case has several holes and missing pieces of evidence that the Crown has not provided to you,” McCullough told the jury.
McCullough’s highlighting of the blood spatter expert stands in contrast to Tuesday, when he called her “inexperienced” during his first day of closing arguments.
Tuesday also saw McCullough question inconsistencies with other forensic evidence presented throughout the trial, saying police failed to check for fingerprints on the alleged murder weapons.
Wednesday heard defence question the credibility of some witness testimonies, including the first police officers who attended the crime scene, suggesting they didn’t line up.
Also on Thursday, McCullough said Berry’s ex-partner Sarah Cotton “knew more than she was letting on” about his gambling debts and people who were after him to pay.
Closing arguments are expected to continue Friday, when Crown is expected to present its case.
— With files from Rumina Daya