British Columbia

Sister of accused B.C. killer wanted him to 'face the truth' after daughters' deaths

Andrew Berry's sister says she'll never know for sure if he killed his two young daughters on Christmas Day, 2017.

'I don’t see my brother. I see a shell of a man,' Andrew Berry's sister tells jury trial

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

The day Andrew Berry was arrested and charged with murdering his daughters, his older sister gave him a sweatsuit to wear in jail. She used a marker to write "I love you" and "truth" inside the cuffs of the shirt.

Testifying in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, Berry's sister said she thought she wouldn't see him again, and though she'd fought against her feelings, she still loved him. She said the messages were meant as her final words of wisdom.

"I was thinking, how does one get past losing their children — and losing their children in such a violent way?" she told the court.

"The only way that I could see for him to get past this … was to face the truth."

Andrew Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his daughters, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey. The girls were found dead in Berry's Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day, 2017.

Thursday marked the second full day of testimony for his sister, who cannot be named because of a publication ban.

She recounted her conversations with Berry in the hospital in the hours and days after the girls' deaths, providing disturbing details about his state of mind at the time.

'This is not my brother'

The first time she saw him was early morning on Boxing Day, hours after she'd been devastated to learn her nieces were dead.

Berry had been rushed into emergency surgery for treatment of stab wounds, and his sister visited him at his hospital bedside. She remembered him reacting as soon as she walked in the room.

"All of a sudden my brother popped up in the bed…. With an immense amount of intensity he said 'Kill me,'" she told the court, speaking those last two words in a whisper.

An Oak Bay firefighter has testified that Berry made a similar request when first responders arrived at his apartment on Christmas Day. 

Berry's sister said she was taken aback by what she saw and heard in that hospital room.

"He's my brother, I can see that he's my brother, but at the same time this is not my brother. He was so thin, his hair was crazy. His eyes, when he said it, it was something I'd never seen before," she said.

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)

The sister returned to the hospital on Dec. 27, when Berry was more lucid. He was having some trouble talking, but they managed to speak a bit and communicate even more by pen and paper.

The notes he wrote to her that day were read out to the court. Berry wrote that he couldn't remember what he'd done, but he'd "tried suicide."

Berry also complained about the girls' mother, Sarah Cotton, as well as his own mother, accusing them of being "bullies" who treated him like he didn't matter.

"I couldn't take them anymore," Berry wrote, adding later, "Evil. The lies they created to get their way was absurd. I couldn't stand up to them."

'Betrayed, bullied and miscast'

During the Dec. 27 visit, Berry also wrote about a note that he'd left on a table in his apartment.

That note, addressed to Berry's sister, was discovered by police. It laid out a long list of Berry's frustrations with his mother and Sarah Cotton, his ex. His sister said she assumed it was meant as a suicide note.

"Betrayed, bullied, and miscast I set out to leave with the kids. I love you and [your children] but I felt it better for myself and kids to escape," one line of the note read.

Berry's sister said she couldn't explain what he meant by that message. Though he'd had a difficult breakup and custody battle, she said he'd never said he wanted to have lone custody of his girls or expressed concerns about Cotton's parenting.

She told the court she'll never know for sure if Berry is guilty of murder.

"I don't know if Andrew killed his daughters or not, but I know he was there. For me, when I look at him now, I don't see my brother. I see a shell of a man," she said, staring straight at Berry from the witness stand.

Judge Miriam Gropper advised the jury to disregard that last sentence.

Berry's sister will return to the stand on Friday to face cross-examination by her brother's defence lawyer.

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.