WARNING: This story contains disturbing details
There were multiple scenarios, including accidents, that could have led to the death of a seven-year-old in her mother’s Langley apartment, the defense argued in the first-degree murder trial of KerryAnn Lewis on Thursday.
“We are arguing for an acquittal here,” noted defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford.
Not in dispute is that Aaliyah Rosa, Lewis’s daughter, was found dead next to the tub in Lewis’s Langley apartment on July 22, 2018. A month after that, Lewis was charged with murder.
The Crown prosecution’s theory throughout the trial has been that Lewis, distraught over lack of access to her daughter, financial problems, and a recent breakup with her boyfriend, gave Aaliyah a mixture of prescription and over the counter sedatives and then drowned the girl in the tub.
Sandford has spent two days arguing that there are multiple other ways Aaliyah could have died, including simple accidents.
She noted there was no direct evidence of how the drugs got into Aaliyah’s system.
The evidence could also be explained by ingestion of the medication, followed by an accidental fall either just before or after taking a bath, Sandford told Justice Martha Devlin.
Devlin noted that didn’t rule out deliberate action on Lewis’s part.
“As you pointed out, a seven year old child would take the medication that her mother had given,” Devlin said.
Sandford has also relied on the fact that, according to a medical expert witness, Aaliyah suffered from a pre-existing condition that left her brain vulnerable to swelling. A relatively minor bump on the head might have led to sudden swelling that ultimately killed her.
“That’s a reasonable possibility,” Sandford said.
“The question is, what preceded that?” Devlin replied. “What preceded the blunt force trauma to the head?”
Devlin noted that the Crown prosecutors are not saying Aaliyah’s hydrocephalus didn’t cause her death. They’re arguing that it was Lewis’s actions via attempted drowning that led to that death.
Sandford argued that it takes hours for some of the symptoms seen in Aaliyah’s autopsy to appear, so she likely died some time after the fatal incident.
Sandford’s closing arguments are expected to be the final phase of the trial before Devlin delivers her verdict.
If found guilty of first degree murder, Lewis faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
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