Berry told sister: ‘Kill me,’ nurse testifies at murder trial

Advisory: This story has details about a murder case.

Andrew Berry’s sister stood by his bedside in the intensive care unit of Victoria General Hospital talking softy to the critically ill Oak Bay man.

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“She was saying some endearing things, like: ‘We’re there for you, we love you.’ And then, he woke up quite suddenly, eyes wide open. I think the moving and the restraints caused him to start coughing and that’s when he mouthed the words ‘Kill me,’ ” critical-care nurse Elizabeth McMullen testified Monday at Berry’s second-degree murder trial in Vancouver.

Berry is accused of murdering his two daughters, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey, at his Beach Drive apartment on Christmas Day 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.

The trial has heard that police went to Berry’s apartment after his ex-wife Sarah Cotton, the mother of the two girls, complained that he had not returned the children as part of their custody agreement.

Police and firefighters entered the apartment and found the two dead girls. An injured and naked Berry was lying in the bathtub. The Crown’s theory is that Berry fatally stabbed the girls, then inflicted wounds on himself.

McMullen told the jury that she cared for Berry during two 12-hour shifts beginning on the nights of Dec. 25 and Dec. 26, 2017.

Berry’s sister, whose first name is protected by a court order, visited him before 2 a.m. on Dec. 26.

When he mouthed the words “Kill me,” he was looking at his sister, said McMullen.

“She immediately looked at me and said: ‘What did he say?’

“And I said: ‘What do you think he said?’

“He said: ‘Kill me,’ ” Berry’s sister replied.

“Yes, that’s what I heard,” said McMullen, who gave Berry some painkillers to calm him down.

The registered nurse told prosecutor Patrick Weir she was standing beside Berry’s sister at the time and saw him mouth the words.

Berry’s parents and his sister’s partner were waiting outside his room in the intensive care unit.

Berry was brought from the operating room to the ICU at 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 25, said McMullen, who prepared a critical-care patient report.

Berry was unconscious and breathing on his own. He looked as if he was in a deep sleep and his heart rate and blood pressure were within a normal range. He had a dressing on his chest wall, a new tracheostomy and a chest tube for a collapsed lung. He had a swollen and bruised eye and an injury to his finger, said McMullen.

On the first night, Berry was restrained with soft fabric wrist restraints. Patients often pull out their tubes when they wake up from an anesthetic, McMullen explained.

Just before midnight, police officer Kathleen Murphy arrived in the ICU, said McMullen. McMullen was getting Berry settled in his bed and had a lot of things to do, so she talked briefly to the officer.

“She didn’t have much to say to us other than that she was going to let us know more information down the road. She was going to interview more people,” said McMullen.

The officer did not ask her to restrict visitors or tell her Berry was under arrest. McMullen wasn’t told what she could or could not say to her patient.

Berry’s level of consciousness was good, she said. He appeared to know where he was and responded to her words and actions.

“He appeared to understand what I was asking,” said McMullen, who cared for him until Dec. 27 at 7 a.m.

“Did he ever ask about his daughters, Chloe and Aubrey?” Weir asked.

No, McMullen replied.

During cross-examination, McMullen told defence lawyer Kevin McCullough that she knew the two young girls had been killed before Berry arrived. She said she’d never dealt with a situation like that before.

The nurse also said she knew Berry’s sister was a police officer.

McMullen agreed that Berry could not vocalize words the whole time she looked after him.

She also agreed that hospital staff were worried about a man waiting downstairs at the hospital.

“The message we got was that there was a distraught man downstairs and that he wanted to come and see Mr. Berry and we didn’t know who he was,” McMullen said.

Cross-examination will continue today.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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