The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Father recounts calling police when daughter went missing at Langley murder trial

Stephen Rosa was testifying at the murder trial of his ex-wife

WARNING: This story may contain disturbing content

The trial of a Langley woman accused of killing her daughter heard on Thursday from the girl’s father about the last time he saw her before her death.

Stephen Rosa testified about dropping off Aaliyah on July 22, 2018 to spend the day with her mother, KerryAnn Lewis. It was part of their normal Sunday routine.

“I remember Aaliyah gave me a different look than she usually did,” Rosa said.

Lewis is charged with first degree murder in Aaliyah’s death.

At the outset of the trial, which began in October, Crown counsel said they would attempt to show that Lewis sedated and then drowned her daughter, seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa, in a bathtub in Lewis’s Langley apartment. She had been upset for years over limited custody of her daughter, according to multiple witnesses, had broken up with her boyfriend earlier that day, and had $15,000 tied up in a “gifting cloud” she couldn’t get back.

The trial has already heard from the people who discovered Aaliyah’s body, Lewis’s ex-boyfriend, several friends, and police officers.

Crown lawyer Christopher McPherson asked Rosa about Aaliyah’s health on the day of her death, and he said she hadn’t been ill for about a year before that.

McPherson asked if Aaliyah ever took medications on her own.

“No, never,” Rosa said.

“Generally, what was her health?” said McPherson.

“Very healthy,” Rosa said. “Very active, very busy.”

On Thursday, the court heard played a number of videos taken by Lewis during her pick ups and drop offs of Aaliyah for scheduled visits.

Aaliyah often cried when being returned to her father, not wanting to leave her mother.

Lewis could be heard shouting at Rosa to stay back and keep his distance from her in the parking lot of the Langley Events Centre where they often exchanged Aaliyah on Sundays.

Rosa said he was often reluctant to stay back, as he didn’t want Aaliyah running across the parking lot without adult supervision.

The day Aaliyah died seemed normal, but at 5 p.m., Lewis did not turn up for the return. Rosa said he thought Lewis might have mixed up the time – Aaliyah’s visits had been two hours longer recently, as Lewis’s mother, Aaliyah’s grandmother, was visiting and the time was extended to give them extra time together.

But when Rosa returned to the parking lot at 7 p.m., Lewis and Aaliyah still weren’t there.

“That’s when I phoned the police the first time,” said Rosa.

He said he was worried because of past statements by Lewis.

“She had stated that she would basically take Aaliyah’s life and her life,” said Rosa.

At that point, it had been a year or more since Lewis had said something like that, he said.

“She would never ever say it directly like that, it was always indirectly, I guess.”

READ MORE: Accused wanted to die to be together with her daughter, witness testifies at Langley murder trial

He did not know where Lewis was living at the time – she had moved to a new apartment less than a month before Aaliyah’s death.

Later that evening, RCMP officers and victim services arrived at his home to tell him his daughter was dead.

McPherson also asked about Rosa’s extremely difficult relationship with his ex-wife. McPherson asked if she’d said anything about his character.

“Non-stop accusations of being racist, accused me of being on drugs, can’t remember exactly what else, possibly accusing me of having affairs,” Rosa replied.

McPherson pointed to text messages from Lewis to Rosa, accusing Rosa of being a “cokehead,” a bully, and violent towards women.

He said none of that was true.

“Did you want Aaliyah to have no contact with her mother?” McPherson said.

“No, that’s not correct.”

Rosa’s testimony has yet to conclude. On Friday, the court heard from Dr. Lisa Steele, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Aaliyah.

Rosa is expected to return to conclude his testimony next week.

Due to coronavirus exposures affecting some witnesses, the trial has taken longer than expected, and will run into December.

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