A petition calling for an appeal of the not guilty verdict in the death of a seven-year-old Langley child has already gathered more than 2,000 signatures on Change.org.
“Help us get justice for Aaliyah by demanding an appeal of her mother’s verdict,” the petition, started by Nadia Causley, says.
KerryAnn Lewis was acquitted after a lengthy first degree murder trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Her daughter, Aaliyah Rosa, was found dead on the floor of Lewis’s bathroom on July 22, 2018.
“Only Ms. Lewis knows what happened to Aaliyah on the day in question,” Justice Martha Devlin said in her verdict on Sept. 3.
“This was a tragic incident resulting in the death of Aaliyah,” she said.
Devlin did find that Lewis had given her daughter a combination of depressant drugs that were found in her system, which were consistent with over the counter Sleep-Eze and prescription Ativan.
But she ruled that the Crown prosecutors had not made their case that Lewis was responsible for Aaliyah’s death beyond a reasonable doubt.
A great deal of expert witness testimony at the trial focused on a pre-existing medical condition that Aaliyah had apparently had, which had been undetected while she was alive.
After the verdict was read, someone in the courtroom yelled angrily that the verdict was “bulls**t.”
According to Dan McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the BC Prosecution service, no decision had been made as of Sept. 9 on an appeal, but he expected a decision would be made in the next few weeks, as there is a limited window to file an appeal.
The call for an appeal on Change.org notes that one aspect of the appeal is public interest, but that does not mean simply that the public is calling for an appeal.
An appeal of a not guilty verdict has to rest on a believe that the judge made an “error of law,” and that a “reasonable argument” exists that the verdict would have been different if the judge had not made the error.
Determining public interest is based on a number of factors, including public safety concerns based on the circumstances of the accused, whether the issues raised by the case are of broad, general importance, and whether it is likely that an appeal would be successful.
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