Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Text messages of accused in murder trial reveal anger over child custody limits

KerryAnn Lewis is on trial in the death of her daughter, Aaliyah Rosa

WARNING: This story may contain disturbing details

Frustrations about access to her daughter were highlighted via text messages sent by accused killer KerryAnn Lewis as her trial in the death of her daughter Aaliyah Rosa continued in New Westminster Supreme Court Monday afternoon.

Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in her mother’s Langley Township apartment on July 22, 2018. Lewis was arrested, and faces a charge of first-degree murder.

Crown lawyers say they will show Aaliyah was sedated and then drowned in the apartment’s bath tub.

On Monday afternoon, Crown counsel Kristen LeNoble led IHIT’s primary investigator through a series of text messages and videos found on Lewis’s iPhone after it was seized by police.

The messages included records of calls to family members, including two of Lewis’s aunts and her mother, as well as multiple text and Telegram app messages to friends, her then-boyfriend Kim Stephany, and her ex-husband Steve Rosa, who had primary custody of their daughter Aaliyah Rosa.

The primary subject of the texts read out in court was Lewis’s frustration over her lack of access to Aaliyah.

“I only see Aaliyah two times a week for a few hours,” she texted an aunt about two months prior to Aaliyah’s death.

Lewis got to see Aaliyah in person twice a week, on Wednesday afternoons, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

She was supposed to be able to speak to Aaliyah via Facetime every evening at 7 p.m., but the messages indicated she often called only for Rosa to not pick up.

She also reference court battles with her ex-husband.

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

“I’ve been fighting for the last 22 months, July 5 will be two years,” Lewis wrote in one text.

“It breaks my heart every day that I am not with my baby girl. This is the third summer in a row Aaliyah and I are going through this bull****,” she wrote to another friend. “I’ve been in mourning for three summers now.”

She had some acrimonious exchanges with Rosa.

“You wanting to punish me and make me suffer is only going to make Aaliyah suffer more in the long run,” she wrote her ex-husband that spring.

In messages to others, she accused him of being abusive during their marriage, of using drugs, and of cheating on her.

Closer to the date of Aaliyah’s death, Lewis also sent multiple messages via Telegram over her concern about money she had invested in a so-called “gifting cloud.”

Although the nature of gifting clouds was not brough up in court, they are considered pyramid schemes by police in B.C. In 2018, they were operating around the Cloverdale area.

READ MORE: Dozens of Cloverdale women involved in illegal gifting clouds

When Stephany broke up with her and left the apartment late on July 21, one of Lewis’s big concerns was to get her money back from a gifting club they had both been involved in.

Lewis referenced having $15,000 invested in one gifting cloud and $1,000 in another one.

A lack of new people being brought in, which would get her closer to a payout, was a worry, and she repeatedly expressed a need for money for legal fees.

“I’m in desperate need of money to pay my lawyer… in order to fight for my daughter in court, and survive with just the basics,” Lewis wrote in one text the day before Aaliyah’s death.

She also acknowledged in one message that she was aware there were risks, noting that her family, in Edmonton, had invested in a similar scheme.

“Seven members in my family lost all the money we put into it,” she wrote.

“To me, it seems very hopeless,” she noted.

She was worried it would be weeks or months at least before she could get her money back, and had no luck finding someone to buy out her spot in the gifting cloud.

More testimony about the text messages was expected to continue on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Earlier Monday, testimony from Lewis’s ex-boyfriend Kim Stephany wrapped up as he described how he and two friends had found Aaliyah’s body when they went to the apartment on July 22 to pick up some of his belongings after the couple had broken up.

READ MORE: Accused slurring, stumbling before body discovered in Langley apartment, court hears

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