WARNING: This story may contain disturbing content
The defense tried to throw doubt on the credibility of a witness who told the court she heard accused murderer KerryAnn Lewis wanted to die with her daughter.
Katrina Yu gave remote testimony given Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Yu, a former friend of KerryAnn Lewis, appeared by video link from China during a special late afternoon session of the trial, held to synchronize the different time zones. She testified through a Mandarin-speaking interpreter.
Lewis is charged with first degree murder in the death of her daughter, seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa. Aaliyah was found dead in Lewis’s Langley apartment on July 22, 2018. At the outset of the trial, Crown counsel said they would show that Lewis sedated then and drowned Aaliyah in the apartment bathtub. Lewis has pleaded not guilty.
Yu is currently in China, but in 2016 she was living in Vancouver when she met Lewis, who rented a room in a home owned by Yu’s family.
Crown lawyer Christopher McPherson led Yu through testimony about her friendship with Lewis.
“We were, once upon a time, very intimate friends,” Yu said.
When Lewis’s apartment was needed for another tenant in the shared rental house, Yu offered to let Lewis move in with her at a small place where she was living in Vancouver at Granville and 70th Avenue.
Similar to the testimony of other friends of Lewis, Yu told the court that Lewis was upset about her lack of access to Aaliyah, who lived with her father, Stephen Rosa.
“Every time when she talked to me about Aaliyah, about the parenting, she was always very sad,” Yu testified.
Lewis would often speak angrily about her ex-husband, Rosa, who had primary custody.
“After she’d vented her anger, she would become very sad, and she would cry a lot,” Yu said. “Then she would talk about wanting to die by suicide, and to bring Aaliyah with her, and that that’s the only way that they could be together.”
McPherson asked if Lewis ever said how Aaliyah would die, but Yu testified that Lewis never talked specifically about killing Aaliyah or how Aaliyah would die, just wanting to die so they could be together.
Marilyn Sandford, Lewis’s defence lawyer, tried to suggest that Lewis had not said anything about Aaliyah dying, only that if Aaliyah died, Lewis’s life would not be worth living.
“That’s not true,” said Yu. “What I said about her wanting to die with Aaliyah, she did say that, too.”
Yu also testified that Lewis had expressed a desire to take Aaliyah out of Canada with her.
“She did tell me that she wanted to take away Aaliyah’s passport, and bring her to somewhere other than Canada,” Yu testified.
“She said it many times, so I don’t remember the dates,” Yu said. “But she said it when we were living together, and also after she’d moved away when we were talking on the phone.”
Yu testified that Lewis also said those things during visits to Yu’s home in China in 2017. Those two visits, in September and November of the year, were also the target of Sandford’s cross examination.
Sandford noted that Yu’s family ran a plastic surgery clinic in China, and that Lewis’s trip was not just to visit Yu, but to have a procedure done at the clinic.
Lewis was unhappy afterward with a complication from the surgery.
After Aaliyah’s death, Yu gave a statement to the police saying that the last time she had seen Lewis, Lewis had turned up at Yu’s Vancouver home yelling and acting “super, super, super crazy.”
But Sandford revealed a confrontation between Lewis and Yu, of which Lewis had recorded audio.
“Kerry recorded?” Yu said.
“You weren’t aware of that, were you,” said Sandford.
The confrontation was about Lewis wanting documentation related to the surgery. But Yu said it was not their final meeting.
“That was not the last time I met her, that is not in my recollection the last time I saw her, it was in the evening.”
Sandford suggested that this was surgery dispute the reason their friendship ended.
Sandford also asked why Yu didn’t go to the police, or contact Lewis’s ex-husband Rosa earlier, if Lewis was talking about harming her daughter.
“At the time, I did not think Kerry was dangerous,” Yu said, referring to 2016. She didn’t contact Steven Rosa until early in 2018, because she didn’t know him at the time, and everything she heard about him came from Lewis, Yu said.
“When someone tells you they want to kill their child, you don’t really need to hear the other side of the story do you, Ms. Yu?” Sandford replied.
Yu testified that she thought if Lewis got custody of Aaliyah, there would be no danger.
Later, after her final meeting with Lewis, Yu did contact Aaliyah’s father Stephen Rosa and meet him once in Langley, she testified.
Yu’s testimony was heard between 4 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 due to the time zone difference between British Columbia and China.
The testimony was under a publication ban until Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin released it on Thursday morning.
The trial is expected to continue through next week and then resume in mid-December, due in part to delays caused by possible COVID exposures to multiple witnesses and Lewis herself.