Mother of slain girls peppered with questions about snow toys

Sarah Cotton appeared exasperated and at times frustrated during a third day of questioning by the defence lawyer representing her ex-partner Andrew Berry.

“My children died on Christmas Day, so my memory of the snow toys might not be perfect. I was not focused on finding snow toys. I was focused on finding my children alive,” Cotton testified through tears in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

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Cotton’s testimony had previously been polite, calm and thoughtful. But as the questions about snow toys continued Wednesday afternoon, Cotton flushed and raised her voice to remind defence lawyer Kevin McCullough that her six-year-old daughter Chloe and four-year-old daughter Aubrey had been brutally murdered at Berry’s Beach Drive apartment on Christmas Day.

McCullough asked Cotton questions about phone calls she exchanged with a friend on Christmas Day when Berry did not return the girls by noon, as required by court order. Around 1 p.m., Cotton asked her friend to swing by Berry’s apartment to look for the girls.

“I thought he might be able to see them walking to my house or outside,” Cotton testified.

There was snow on the ground. And even though her friend hadn’t seen the girls, he’d seen snow toys in the back of the house, she recalled.

At 2:15 p.m., she went to Berry’s apartment with her mother-in-law to look for the girls herself.

McCullough suggested that she likely went to look for the snow toys.

“No I didn’t. I was just concerned about finding the girls. I wasn’t focused on the toys,” she said.

McCullough repeatedly suggested that Cotton went to look for the snow toys mentioned by her friend.

“No I didn’t,” Cotton replied.

“I’m going to suggest that even though you don’t have a specific memory, it’s likely you would have gone to look for snow toys,” McCullough said.

“No I didn’t,” said Cotton. She added that she may have seen the snow toys as she drove by the back of Berry’s apartment.

The defence lawyer also repeatedly asked Cotton about knocking on the windows of Berry’s apartment. The trial has heard that Berry’s buzzer was broken and Cotton used to knock on the front window when she picked up the girls.

Cotton testified that she knocked on the front window and the window near the eating area. She firmly and repeatedly denied knocking on the bedroom windows to get the girls’ attention on Dec. 25.

McCullough produced a document from the Crown that said Cotton might have knocked on the second bedroom window.

“I just don’t remember that, Mr. McCullough … . Again, my children died on Christmas Day,” she said, her voice breaking.

“Mr. Berry’s children died on Christmas Day as well, Miss Cotton,” McCullough replied.

Cotton stared with astonishment at the defence lawyer.

“Ask the question, Mr. McCullough,” said Justice Miriam Gropper.

“Remember all the questions I asked you, Miss Cotton, about you desperately wanting to locate your children.”

“Yes, but as I said, I did not expect them dead in their bedrooms. I didn’t hear them. I didn’t think they were home … . so I don’t know why we’re harping on this,” Cotton replied.

The jury has not been told why the snow toys and knocking on the windows is relevant.

The trial will continue Thursday morning.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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