VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — In September 2017, four-year-old Aubrey Berry had just lost her two front teeth and was looking forward to starting kindergarten.
On Christmas Day of that year she and her sister Chloe, 6, were found dead in their father’s apartment. Police found their bodies after their mother reported they weren’t returned on time from their court-ordered visit with their father.
On Thursday, their father–Andrew Berry–was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder by a jury in Vancouver.
Valerie Jerome is a friend of Chloe and Aubrey’s mother, Sarah Cotton. She saw the girls during their annual summer vacations at Shawnigan Lake.
“I knew the girls,” she says. “I was fortunate to see the little girls in the summers.”
Jerome says the verdict, which came after two days of deliberations, was a relief.
“There was a conviction and there needed to be a conviction. I felt satisfied for Sarah, for her family,” Jerome said after the verdict came down. “It’s justice, but those little girls are gone. Thank God there was justice. But it’s just such a tragedy that it happened.”
Berry’s trial lasted five months.
Jerome watched portions of it with Cotton at the courthouse in Victoria where it was live streamed.
“[Sarah’s] strength has been absolutely remarkable. She said every day she was keeping strong for the girls,” Jerome says. “Of course she’s crushed, she’s heartbroken–but she’s been strong for the girls”
Andrew Berry had pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in the deaths of his daughters in the Victoria suburb of Oak Bay.
Court heard that police found the two children dead on beds in separate bedrooms with multiple stab wounds.
Berry was found naked in the bathtub with stab wounds to his neck and throat, and he told first responders “Kill me” and “Leave me alone” when they arrived.
In his testimony, Berry told the jury that two men connected to a loan shark named Paul stored what he believed was a bag of drugs at his apartment in March 2017 in exchange for a delay in the repayment of a loan worth thousands of dollars.
Berry testified that he was attacked by a man with dark skin and hair, but the Crown argued his wounds were self-inflicted after a failed suicide attempt.
The crown argued Berry had been harbouring “anger and resentment” towards Cotton since they separated. He suggested that Berry would lose custody of the girls after that Christmas, and alleged that the father resolved if he couldn’t be with his daughters then Cotton couldn’t either.
With files from The Canadian Press