IHIT officers on scene at the Langley Township apartment building where the body of Aaliyah Rosa was found in July, 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)

IHIT officers on scene at the Langley Township apartment building where the body of Aaliyah Rosa was found in July, 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)

Father recounts overdoses of ex-wife accused of killing their daughter

Stephen Rosa testified in the murder trial of KerryAnn Lewis

WARNING: This story contains disturbing content

The ex-husband of a woman accused of murdering their child concluded his testimony Monday morning in a New Westminster courtroom.

Stephen Rosa was cross examined by the lawyer defending his ex-wife, KerryAnn Lewis. Lewis has been charged with first degree murder in the 2018 death of seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa. She has pleaded not guilty.

The court has already heard from multiple witnesses that Lewis was, by the summer of 2018, upset about the lack of time she got to spend with her daughter.

Rosa had primary custody, and Lewis saw Aaliyah between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays, and on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m.

But Sandford pointed out that things were not always acrimonious between the separated couple.

Lewis’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, showed the court a video of a civil conversation Rosa and Lewis had via Facetime in 2017, and asked if there were times when things were relatively good between the divorcing couple.

Rosa agreed there were times where they communicated relatively well and other times when issues would arise.

By later in 2018, however, Sandford suggested that communication between the two was now limited to a few phone calls.

Sandford asked if Lewis’s mood was poor by the summer of 2018.

“I’m not a doctor, and I had very limited time seeing her,” Rosa said.

READ MORE: Father recounts calling police when daughter went missing at Langley murder trial

Sandford also asked Rosa about a number of times Lewis was hospitalized between 2010 and their separation in 2016, each time because Lewis had apparently deliberately overdose on prescription medication and alcohol.

The first incident happened when Lewis was pregnant with Aaliyah, and Lewis had gone to take a bath.

“You found her in the bathroom?” said Sandford.

“Correct.”

Lewis was taken to the hospital for 24 hours.

“Was this your first appreciation that Ms. Lewis suffered from serious mental health difficulties?” Sandford asked.

Rosa confirmed it was.

There were multiple similar incidents between 2010 and 2016 in which Lewis would overdose and be hospitalized, often for weeks.

In late 2014, Rosa said he got a call from his mother while he was at work. His mother had been called on Facetime by Aaliyah, “saying she couldn’t wake up mommy.”

Each incident involved a crisis, suicidal thoughts by Lewis, and finally an overdose. Rosa said he did not believe Lewis was trying to kill herself, however.

“To me it was a reach for help. Or a reach for attention,” he said.

In testimony last Friday, Nov. 13, pathologist Dr. Lisa Steele testified that Aaliyah Rosa died of an acute lack of oxygen.

Steele testified for most of the day about her examination of Aaliyah’s body, which took place on July 27, 2018, five days after the body of the seven-year-old girl was found in Lewis’s Langley apartment.

The Crown said at the outset of the trial that they planned to show that Lewis sedated Aaliyah before drowning her in the apartment bathtub. Lewis has been charged with first degree murder and has pleaded not guilty.

Steele testified that the child’s death was likely not due to strangulation, as there were no marks or signs associated with that kind of attack.

The court has heard testimony since the trial began in October from multiple witnesses, including police investigators, the people who discovered Aaliyah’s body, and former friends of Lewis.

The trial is scheduled to continue through this week, with further testimony to be held in December.

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