Andrew Berry found guilty in daughters' Christmas Day killings
Jury returns verdict after 3 days of deliberation
A B.C. jury has found Andrew Berry guilty in the deaths of his daughters — four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry — who were found stabbed to death in an Oak Bay apartment on Christmas Day 2017.
The jury found him guilty on both counts of second-degree murder on Thursday, after three days of deliberation.
A small gasp of relief was heard from an observer in the gallery of the B.C. Supreme Court after the first verdict was read. Berry showed no sign of emotion.
Berry had pleaded not guilty to both counts, leading to a five-month trial in Vancouver that was live-streamed to a public gallery in a Victoria courtroom.
The Crown alleged that Berry used a baseball bat and a knife to kill Chloe, then stabbed Aubrey to death before trying to kill himself. He was found lying in the bathtub, naked, suffering from stab wounds.
During his testimony, Berry told the court that he and the girls were attacked in his apartment by someone with dark skin and dark hair.
He testified that he owed a large gambling debt to a loan shark named Paul, and had given a spare set of apartment keys to Paul's associates so they could access packages Berry had agreed to store.
On Thursday, the courtroom learned that the jury was unconvinced by Berry's version of events.
In his closing arguments on Sept. 20, Crown attorney Patrick Weir said Berry's testimony was "like the plot from a bad, low-budget movie," alleging that there was no loan shark, no intruder and that Berry's wounds were self-inflicted.
Weir argued that Berry killed the girls because of animosity with his estranged wife, Sarah Cotton.
In his closing submissions, Berry's lawyer, Kevin McCullough, reminded the court that it was the Crown's responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client killed the girls.
Cotton's supporters in Vancouver embraced the Crown attorneys outside the courtroom after the verdict.
"There needed to be a conviction and I felt satisfied for Sarah, for her family," said family friend Valerie Jerome. "Those little girls are gone and thank god there's justice, but it's just such a tragedy that it happened."
Valerie Jerome, a close friend of Chloe and Aubrey’s mother, says the guilty verdict against their father Andrew Berry is a great relief. <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcnewsbc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@cbcnewsbc</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCAlerts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCAlerts</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCVancouver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCVancouver</a> <a href="https://t.co/w9iqKPrEoA">pic.twitter.com/w9iqKPrEoA</a>—@DanBurritt
The mayor of Oak Bay also spoke about the lasting impact the girls' murders and the months-long trial have had on his community.
"It doesn't just go away with the verdict," said Kevin Murdoch, who rushed to the courtroom to hear the verdict in person.
"In fact the verdict brought back, for me, a lot of the feelings I had in those first few days afterwards so I think that'll be the same for a lot of us. It just makes it all raw."
Jurors were asked by the judge to provide input on Berry's sentence. Two recommended he serve only 10 years and six others asked for 15 years for each guilty count.
An Oct. 9 court date has been set in Victoria to fix a date for sentencing.
With files from Bethany Lindsay and Dan Burritt