WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.
One juror was dismissed during Thursday’s proceedings of the double murder trial for Oak Bay father Andrew Berry, leaving 13 jurors as proceedings continue in Vancouver.
On Thursday afternoon the jury saw another first responder take the stand to describe the scene on Christmas Day 2017 after six-year-old Chloe Berry and four-year-old Aubrey Berry were found dead in separate bedrooms and their father Andrew Berry, 45, seriously injured in a bath tub at his Beach Drive apartment.
Brad Trenholm of the Oak Bay Fire Department was the first firefighter on the scene. He testified that he knew the call would be traumatic as soon as it was engaged, but he had no memory of forming conclusions about what had happened while he at the apartment.
“I can’t remember most of the night to be honest,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s from the nature of the call…with children involved it’s quite traumatic.
My focus was on patient care and dealing with the situation at hand.”
But the fact that 16 months have passed since that night could also be the reason for his fuzzy memory, Trenholm added, although he said he does remember portions of the evening clearly, like Oak Bay Sgt. Michael Martin informing him there were two dead children inside the apartment.
Trenholm testified that he saw a female paramedic exit the main hallway in a state of distress, “upset and emotional.”
He prioritized keeping the members of his crew who had children out of the unit and away from the scene.
“I was going to try to shield them if I could, if it was unavoidable then it was unavoidable,” he said.
Oak Bay Const. Piotr Ulanowski – the officer who first went to Andrew Berry’s residence to check on the girls after they weren’t returned to their mother on time as laid out in a custody order – held a flashlight in the bathroom while Trenholm attended to Andrew Berry, who was in the bathtub with serious injuries.
When crews responded it was evening – first responders worked with minimal light because the hydro in Berry’s apartment had been shut off.
Trenholm noted Berry had chest wounds, a throat wound and a swollen right eye but agreed with defence counsel Kevin McCullough that the bathroom was dark and lighting was minimal.
“It was dark, save for the flashlight,” he said.
The court was shown an image of the blood splattered bathroom with a children’s foot stool in front of the sink and a barbie doll resting on the soap holder in the bathtub.
Trenholm testified earlier in the day that he heard Berry say, “Kill me, just kill me.”
McCullough asked the firefighter, “would it be fair to say…that this situation was traumatic?”
“Yes,” Trenholm responded.
“And obviously that trauma was having some impact on you…” McCullough said.
Trenholm responded, “it was on my mind during my decision-making.”
Near the end of the day’s proceedings the court was informed that one juror has been dismissed. As a longer trial, the case had made use of a Criminal Code provision that allowed for the selection of 14 jurors, accounting for the possibility that some might not be able to continue as the trial progressed.
In Canada, at least 10 jurors are required in order to deliver a verdict.