Nurse believed Berry was feigning sleep, trial hears

Andrew Berry was very withdrawn, lying quietly in his bed with his eyes closed in the intensive-care unit of Victoria General Hospital for the two days critical care nurse Barbara Cina looked after him in late December 2017.

Cina was testifying Wednesday at Berry’s second-degree murder trial at the Vancouver Law Courts. The 45-year-old Oak Bay man is accused of murdering his six-year-old daughter Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey at his Beach Drive apartment on Christmas Day 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.

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When Cina arrived at work on the morning of Dec. 26, her nursing colleague Elizabeth McMullen told her the police were involved in Berry’s case, Cina testified.

She wondered if Berry would co-operate with her and if she had to worry about him being aggressive. But her patient was co-operative and followed her directions, even when his restraints were removed at 9 a.m. that day.

“What stood out to me was that Mr. Berry was very withdrawn throughout the day … and the following day. He was lying in the bed with his eyes closed, very little movement. I was actually pretty sure that he was awake, just lying there with his eyes closed,” Cina testified. “I communicated that to the doctor that he was pretending to be asleep.”

People breathe more regularly and deeply when they are asleep and their vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, might be slightly lower, she explained to the jury. It made her wonder what was going on in Berry’s mind.

Berry was in some pain and mildly agitated and distressed at the situation, said Cina, who asked that he be given some Ativan. Cina said she was able to communicate easily with Berry. Her patient could mouth words, shake his head, make gestures and write notes, she testified.

Before 12:15 p.m., Det. Const. Kathleen Murphy of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit came to the ICU and met in the boardroom with Cina, the charge nurse, a doctor and a social worker.

Murphy explained that Berry was not under arrest, but police were gathering evidence that would have to go to the Crown for charge approval, Cina said. Murphy also told the medical staff that police wanted to know when Berry was discharged from hospital.

Around 1 p.m., Cina learned that psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Pitcher was going to see Berry on Dec. 27. A resident, or medical doctor in training, asked Cina to keep all the notes Berry was writing and she complied with that request.

Later in the day, Berry’s sister-in-law Monica phoned for an update on his condition. Cina gave a general summary of Berry’s condition. He had no visitors at all on Dec. 26.

About 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 27, Pitcher came to visit Berry. She spoke with Cina and reviewed Berry’s chart, then went into his room and had a conversation, Cina testified.

“I remained outside the room and I did not overhear the conversation,” said Cina.

About 5 p.m., Berry’s sister came in and had a one-to-one visit with him. Cina left the room, but observed that Berry was in the bed and his sister — whose first name is under a publication ban — was at the head of the bed, very close to him.

“The meeting happened in a very quiet way. They must have been meeting close to an hour,” Cina testified.

After their conversation, Cina met with Berry’s sister and her partner.

“It was a quiet conversation. What I could sense from them was they were in a state of shock and disbelief at the general situation they were in.”

Cina testified that she was very confident Berry knew where he was and that she was his nurse. He never asked about his daughters or what had brought him to the hospital

“The girls were never part of our conversation,” she told Crown prosecutor Patrick Weir.

During cross-examination, Cina told defence lawyer Kevin McCullough that she understood and was told that Berry’s wounds were self-inflicted.

McCullough observed that Cina was dealing with a non-violent patient, who never tried to kill himself by pulling out [the tube in] his trachea and never mouthed the words “Kill me” to her.

The trial continues Thursday.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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