WARNING: This story may contain disturbing content
The accused in a Langley child murder case is fit to continue with the trial, a judge decided Friday, but COVID-19 and other health issues have already caused multiple delays.
The accused, KerryAnn Lewis, was examined by phone by a doctor with the Forensic Psychiatric Service Friday morning, Justice Martha Devlin was told in a New Westminster courtroom.
The doctor did not see any reason why Lewis was not fit to continue with the trial, despite the fact that Lewis collapsed in court on Wednesday morning.
“Our instructions are that she [Lewis] wishes to proceed,” said Marilyn Sandford, the defense lawyer.
Lewis has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree murder in the death of her seven-year-old daughter Aaliyah Rosa.
Aaliyah was found dead inside Lewis’s Langley apartment on July 22, 2018. The Crown prosecutors said at the outset of the case that they intend to prove that Lewis sedated and then drowned Aaliyah in the apartment bathtub.
Multiple witnesses have testified that Lewis had been upset about her lack of access to her daughter, who lived with her father.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Lewis fainted in court shortly after Devlin had announced plans to pause the trial to have the accused seen by a doctor.
A loud thud was audible over the audio link to the trial, and court staff called for emergency medical personnel to check Lewis out.
She was apparently speaking after her collapse, and was seen by paramedics in courthouse cells.
The incident was the latest in a series of health-related delays that have struck the trial, involving both Lewis, who has been too ill to attend court on a few days, as well as witnesses.
Multiple witnesses, including one of the Emergency Health Services paramedics, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have had to quarantine after an exposure.
The latest to be affected was the toxicology expert who was scheduled to testify on Friday morning, but was awaiting a COVID test result after developing symptoms, the court heard.
Sandford noted that there was no sign the COVID-related problems would dissipate by mid-December, when the trial is scheduled to resume.
“It’s possible the COVID situation may actually be worse,” she noted.
Devlin insisted the trial would conclude despite the delays.
“It will take the time it takes,” the judge said.
The trial is now scheduled to resume on Dec. 14 for a week of testimony.
“Hopefully, everyone will stay healthy until then,” said Devlin.
The judge is expected to hear from paramedics, the toxicologist, and staff at two stores where Lewis stopped with Aaliyah the morning before the child’s death, including a drug store and a liquor store.
If the trial takes longer, Devlin said a week can be reserved in January to finish hearing the evidence.