Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July, 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July, 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)

Coronavirus sets back Langley murder trial for second day

The accused has been ill and is still being tested to make sure she does not have COVID-19

WARNING: This story may contain disturbing content.

The trial of a Langley woman accused of murdering her seven-year-old daughter lost a day of testimony on Monday again due to a possible COVID-19 diagnosis.

KerryAnn Lewis is facing a first-degree murder charge, and has been on trial in New Westminster Supreme Court since late October for the alleged murder of Aaliyah Rosa.

The Crown lawyers have said they will introduce evidence to show that on July 22, 2018, Lewis sedated Aaliyah and then drowned the child in her apartment bathtub, and the trial has already heard from witnesses who discovered Aaliyah’s body and some of the police investigators who worked on the case.

But on Friday and again on Monday illness disrupted the proceedings.

On Monday, court began by hearing the Lewis might not appear on the video monitor connected to her pre-trial centre.

“I’m told that Ms. Lewis is refusing to leave her cell,” said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin.

After a brief recess, Lewis did appear by video, but Devlin wanted to know why Lewis was not in the courtroom in person as the judge had ordered the previous Friday.

“She was anxious to return to court in person, but was advised yesterday that she was not yet cleared,” said Marilyn Sandford, Lewis’s lawyer.

READ MORE: Possible COVID case delays Langley murder trial

READ MORE: Crown says murder of seven year old in Langley was planned, deliberate

There were issues over whether Lewis had been cleared by the pre-trial centre where she is in custody during the trial.

The trial was held up on Friday as Lewis was ill and was awaiting the results of a coronavirus test. She was too sick to watch by video, so the day’s proceedings were cancelled and witness testimony rescheduled.

By Monday, Lewis’s coronavirus test had come back negative, but she required a second screening due to pre-trial centre protocols.

“She is more than happy to have another test,” said Sandford.

However, until that happened, Lewis could not return to the courthouse, and there were worries about her seeing some evidence via the video monitor system.

“It appears that we’re at a bit of a standstill here,” said Devlin.

She encouraged Lewis to do whatever needed to be done to get a full screening so the trial can resume by Tuesday, Nov. 10.

With Lewis unable to attend in person, Monday’s witnesses were delayed, as were Friday’s.

Devlin did deal with one other COVID-related matter, when she ruled in favour of allowing a Crown witness to testify from China via a video link on Tuesday.

“The ideal situation would be Ms. Yu here in the courtoom,” said Christopher McPherson, one of the two Crown counsel lawyers prosecuting the case.

However, largely due to COVID, it’s impossible to have Yu, a former roommate of Lewis, travel to Canada.

After the lawyers and courthouse IT staff tested whether it was possible to display evidence and documents via a video link, Devlin ruled that she will allow Yu’s testimony to go forward, as long as technological issues can be dealt with.. Due to the time zone difference with China, Yu will testify Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. local time.

At least two other witnesses have had their scheduled times to appear disrupted by possible COVID exposures to themselves or their family.

The trial is expected to continue until late November at least.

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