Trial begins for B.C. mother accused of drugging and drowning her 7-year-old daughter — (CBC News)

SSRI Ed note: Mother on cannabis, benzodiazepines and alcohol drugs and drowns her 7-yr old, lies face down in tub after 2 relationship breakdowns, several suicide attempts.

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CBC News

Yvette Brend · CBC News

Crown prosecutor says accused wrote about custody battle with ex-husband: ‘I can’t take it anymore’

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.

Aaliyah Rosa, 7, was found dead in her mother’s apartment in Langley, B.C., on July 22, 2018. Kerryann Lewis was found not guilty of first-degree murder Friday in her daughter’s drugging and drowning death. (IHIT)

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.

Aaliyah Rosa’s father Steve, left, and her cousin, aunt and uncle gather around a memorial tree on what would have been her eighth birthday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Rosa family)

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.

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B.C. mother found not guilty of first-degree murder in daughter’s drugging and drowning death— (CBC News)

Langley, B.C., mother Kerryann Lewis has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her seven-year-old daughter.

Aaliyah Rosa was found dead on the bathroom floor in her mother’s apartment in Langley’s Willoughby Slope neighbourhood on July 22, 2018.

Crown prosecutors had argued that Lewis drugged and drowned her daughter, but on Friday, Justice Martha Devlin said in New Westminster Supreme Court that while the death was tragic and devastating, evidence presented at trial was not conclusive in establishing the mother’s guilt.

The verdict was clearly upsetting to some in the courtroom who were heard yelling profanities after it was read out.

‘Alternative scenarios’ couldn’t be ruled out: judge

Devlin said it was incumbent on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lewis, 38, had intentionally drugged and then drowned the girl, but that “alternative scenarios” — like the girl falling into the tub — could not be ruled out and therefore supported inferences other than guilt.

She said while it may be shocking to think that Lewis left her daughter on the bathroom floor, there was no evidence that the girl was alive or dead when Lewis found her, and it did not make her guilty of murder.  

Devlin noted the Crown did not pursue other charges that may have been applicable in the case.

Stephen Rosa, Aaliyah’s father, had custody of his daughter and last saw her alive around 10 a.m. the morning of her death when he dropped her off with Lewis for an unsupervised visit, the court heard.

When Lewis didn’t show up to transfer Aaliyah back to her father at 5 p.m. later the same day, friends went to Lewis’s apartment and found the girl’s body cold and wet on the floor of an ensuite bathroom, wearing shorts and wrapped in a pink bathrobe.

Lewis was found face down in a bathtub. The Crown prosecutor said her blood showed signs of cannabis, benzodiazepines and alcohol.

Drug evidence

The court heard that Aaliyah had two depressants in her system at the time of death, diphenhydramine and lorazepam.

Court also also heard that Lewis had bought Sleep Eze and Ativan, which contain those substances, at a Shoppers Drug Mart in the hours before her daughter died.

Devlin said that although she believed Lewis gave the girl drugs, she could not conclude that she intended to kill her daughter, or that they were the same drugs purchased earlier in the day as there were other drugs in the apartment containing the same substances.

Devlin said it was possible that Lewis had given Aaliyah the drugs to keep her quiet, and possible she had purchased the drugs for her own use as she was distressed over a very recent breakup.

The court also heard that Aaliyah had suffered a mild head injury, as well as an injury to the left side of her neck. Devlin said evidence presented made it reasonable to assume the injuries were accidental and not necessarily related to her death.