The trial of a Langley, B.C., mother accused of murdering her seven-year-old daughter by drugging and then drowning her, began in New Westminster Supreme Court on Monday.
Aaliyah Rosa was found dead on the bathroom floor of her mother's Metro Vancouver apartment in Langley's Willoughby Slope neighbourhood on July 22, 2018.
Kerryann Lewis, 38, stood and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges this morning, as her former in-laws and other masked and physical distanced court attendees looked on.
Crown counsel Kristen LeNoble then read an opening statement to Justice Martha Devlin saying the Crown will prove that Lewis drugged then drowned her daughter.
Lewis wore a mask in the prisoner's box and sat with her head bowed. She nodded in thanks when a thick copy of the Criminal Code was used to raise a monitor so that she could see photographic evidence on the screen on the other side of high, wood-panelled walls.
LeNoble says over the coming weeks the Crown will prove Lewis's efforts to kill her daughter were "planned and deliberate."
"Lewis sedated Aaliyah with diphenhydramine and lorazepam and then drowned her in the bathtub of the apartment," LeNoble said.
She then laid out evidence of how Lewis bought Sleep Eze, Ativan and Smirnoff's vodka in the hours before her daughter was discovered on a bathroom floor in an apartment near 200 Street and 68th Avenue in Langley. Lewis was found face-down in the bathtub.
The Crown says her blood showed signs of cannabis, benzodiazepines and alcohol. LeNoble said there had been a troubled relationship between Lewis and her former husband and fights over custody of their child.
In paperwork that the Crown says Lewis was filling out the day her daughter died she wrote: "My ex-husband was on cocaine, mentally, physically and emotional abuse [sic] It's very hard ... I just can't take it anymore."
The couple separated in 2016 and the father had custody of the child. Lewis and her new partner had also broken up in the hours before her child's death.
Stephen Rosa last saw his daughter alive at around 10 a.m. on July 22, 2018.
He'd dropped her off with Lewis who had unsupervised visits twice a week. Crown says there's evidence that Lewis then headed to a drug store about 15 minutes later.
There's also evidence that the mother then bought candy, a bottle of blue Powerade, and a box of Sleep-Eze — an over-the-counter sleep medication containing diphenhydramine. She also bought a one milligram dose of Ativan, a brand name for lorazepam.
After that, the Crown statement says, she went to a liquor store and bought a bottle of Smirnoff vodka.
Later that day when Lewis didn't show up to transfer her daughter back to her father at 5 p.m. as planned, friends came to her apartment door and found it blocked with boxes and a piece of furniture, according to the Crown.
They eventually found Aaliyah's body on the bathroom floor "cold and wet, wearing shorts and wrapped in a pink bathrobe."
They called 911, and found Lewis nearby, face down in the water of the bathtub.
Emergency Health Services treated Lewis before transporting her to Langley Memorial Hospital. They did not try to resuscitate the child, who had been dead for some time, the Crown's statement said.
On Monday afternoon, the judge began to hear the expert witness testimony of the police investigator who photographed the crime scene.
Pathologist Dr. Lisa Steele is expected to testify next month that the seven-year-old sustained multiple injuries, but died as a result of lack of oxygen to her brain due to drowning.
A toxicologist will also testify about the drugs found in the deceased child. The trial is set to run for 22 days.