British Columbia

'Did you decide to juice up your evidence?' defence asks sister of accused Oak Bay killer

During her third day of testimony on Friday, Andrew Berry’s sister was the subject of an aggressive round of cross-examination from defence lawyer Kevin McCullough.

Andrew Berry's lawyer suggests sister is being 'silly'

The bodies of six-year-old Chloe Berry, left, and her four-year-old sister, Aubrey, were found in their father's Oak Bay, B.C., apartment on Christmas Day 2017. (Submitted)

A defence lawyer for alleged child killer Andrew Berry has accused Berry's sister of trying to "juice up" her evidence and acting "silly" on the stand.

During her third day of testimony on Friday, Berry's sister was the subject of an aggressive round of cross-examination from defence lawyer Kevin McCullough. At the centre of his cross-examination were apparent attempts to catch the witness in a lie.

Earlier this week, the sister recalled the moment police officers came to her door on Christmas Day 2017 and informed her that her nieces had been killed.

"They told me … that my brother was in the hospital with what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds," the sister testified on Thursday. She cannot be named because of a publication ban.

McCullough pointed out that she hadn't mentioned the "self-inflicted" part when she testified in a voire dire last winter, and asked if she was being truthful.

"Did you decide to juice up your evidence for the jury trial?" McCullough asked.

"No," she answered.

He kept pressing: "Are you sure?"  

"I'm positive," she said.

'I'll never forget'

Andrew Berry is on trial on two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his daughters, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey, who were both found dead in his Oak Bay apartment. He has pleaded not guilty.

McCullough has made previous allegations of witnesses manipulating their evidence for the jury. That includes when he cross-examined Sarah Cotton, the mother of the two girls. McCullough suggested she had fabricated parts of her testimony.

During Friday's cross-examination, McCullough questioned Berry's sister repeatedly about why she could remember certain details and not others.

McCullough asked why, for example, she couldn't recall how long she spent at Berry's bedside during her first visit after the stabbings but remembered clearly that her brother said "kill me" when she first walked into his hospital room.

"You're in this state of shock and you can't even remember whether you were in the room for one minute or 40 minutes, and yet you have this very specific memory," McCullough said.

She replied, "I'll never forget."

Andrew Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. (Jane Wolsak )

Berry's sister is an RCMP officer who has testified in court more than a dozen times. Though she wasn't visibly rattled by McCullough's cross-examination, she did let him know multiple times that he was asking questions she'd already answered.

On one occasion, McCullough grilled her about why she'd testified that she couldn't remember the date and content of a specific conversation with an officer who was investigating the girls' deaths. 

"You're being silly. You're not being truthful," McCullough said.

"I don't even know how to answer that," Berry's sister replied. "I don't even remember what day my brother was arrested."

McCullough's questioning was frequently interrupted by objections from the Crown, which meant the jury had to file out of the room while the two sides made those arguments in front of Justice Miriam Gropper.

Objections from both defence and Crown have been regular events during the trial, taking large chunks of time out of some days of testimony. 

On Friday, the jury passed a note to the judge asking for an update on the expected schedule for the remainder of the trial. 

That question has yet to be answered. Berry's sister will return to the stand for a fourth day on Monday.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.