VANCOUVER — The Crown suggested Tuesday that a Vancouver Island father accused of killing his daughters on Christmas Day in 2017 hesitated before stabbing himself in the throat.
Crown attorney Patrick Weir showed the court a photo of Andrew Berry in the hospital and pointed to several nicks on his throat.
“One stab would have been an attempt to kill you,” Weir asked Berry.
“Yes,” Berry replied.
The nicks are “hesitation marks,” which were caused by Berry building up “courage” to kill himself, Weir said.
Berry denied the allegation.
He is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of six-year-old Chloe Berry and four-year-old Aubrey Berry in his home in Oak Bay.
The Crown’s theory is that Berry killed the girls and then tried to kill himself, but Berry says he owed thousands of dollars to a loan shark named Paul and was attacked in his apartment.
Berry has told the trial that Paul was in his 30s when he first got to know him about 20 years ago, but he didn’t know the man’s last name.
Weir showed the court evidence that Berry had 16 stab wounds in the upper left side of his chest.
The wounds were about two-and-a-half centimetres in depth, close together, oriented in the same direction and none of them were life-threatening, the court heard.
The father said he was stabbed in the chest once but he doesn’t remember how he got multiple chest wounds.
Weir asked Berry to describe how he was attacked on Christmas Day.
He was tackled, pushed on the bed and stabbed in the throat, Berry said.
The attacker was a dark-skinned, dark-haired man who was not one of two henchmen who had previously visited Berry’s house or Paul the loan shark, he said.
“Did you make an effort to alert the girls?” Weir asked.
“I don’t know,” Berry said.
He said he put a hand to his throat and it sounded like a “fart.”
He choked up as he described getting up, going to Chloe’s room, falling unconscious in the hallway, coming around and crawling over to his daughter’s bed.
“How do you know she’s dead?” Weir asked.
“She’s a bloody mess,” Berry replied, adding that he tried to push her but “nothing happened.”
At that time he thought of Aubrey and went into the kitchen where he was attacked again, he said.
He regained consciousness in the bathroom where he heard yells of “police, police,” he said.
A flashlight and a gun were also pointed at him, and someone was saying “this is the guy who killed his kids,” he told the court.
Berry said earlier he wanted to shout when he heard the comment. Weir asked him what he felt like shouting.
“Just ‘aaah,’ ” Berry replied.
Earlier in the day the prosecutor focused on two little girls’ notes to Santa, unopened gifts and the last full day they spent with their father on Christmas Eve.
“It must have been a very memorable day … you must have relived that day,” Weir said.
Berry said he didn’t have a vivid memory of what happened that day.
Weir asked for details of their outing to a recreational centre and what the father and daughters did that morning.
“You’re trying to parse this out in a level of detail that I just cannot remember,” Berry said.
Weir asked Berry about a note written to Santa by Chloe that read: “Dear Santa, Enjoy the bunny crackers from Chloe, Aubrey and Andy.”
Another note from the girls told Santa there was an unopened toothbrush for him to use after he ate the crackers.
Crime scene photos presented at the jury trial showed a bowl with cracker crumbs and an unopened toothbrush.
“I’m going to suggest those stockings were empty. I’m going to suggest there were no gifts at all from you to the girls that morning,” Weir said.
“No,” Berry said.
Berry’s testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.
Hina Alam, The Canadian Press