Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. File photo

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. File photo

Lack of oxygen killed Langley seven-year-old, pathologist testifies

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis continues in New Westminster Supreme Court

WARNING: This story contains disturbing content

Aaliyah Rosa died of an acute lack of oxygen, a pathologist testified Friday in the murder trial of Aaliyah’s mother, KerryAnn Lewis.

Dr. Lisa Steele testified for most of Friday about her examination of Aaliyah’s body, which took place on July 27, five days after the body of the seven-year-old girl was found in Lewis’s Langley apartment.

The Crown said at the outset of the trial that they planned to show that Lewis sedated Aaliyah before drowning her in the apartment bathtub. Lewis has been charged with first degree murder.

Aaliyah appeared to have been a well nourished child of normal development before death, Steele said.

Crown lawyer Christopher McPherson led Steele through testimony about a close examination of several areas of Aaliyah’s body, including injuries that occurred sometime before death.

Steele noted the absence of petechial hemorrhaging on Aaliyah’s eyes or lips. That type of hemorrhaging shows as small spots, where capillaries burst if someone is strangled or choked to death.

READ MORE: Accused wanted to die together with her daughter, witness testifies at Langley murder trial

There was also an absence of injuries to the skin on Aaliyah’s neck.

“No bruising, no scrapes, no abrasions. No injuries,” said Steele.

McPherson asked if Aaliyah had been strangled, would there have been some visible injury to the neck area.

Steele said there are usually abrasions caused by a ligature, and there can be vertical scratches where the victim tries to pry away a rope or hands used in the attack.

There were no ligature marks and no defensive wounds in Aaliyah’s case.

Aaliyah had also suffered some kind of injury that caused brain swelling and a bleed inside her skull. That could have been the result of an impact to the head, or of some kind of seizure, Steele testified.

In addition, she had two bruises on her head, but Steele could not definitively say when those occurred – they could have happened just before death, or 24 hours earlier.

“Any bruising or bleeding is very difficult to date,” she said.

Steele also found damage to a muscle on one side of Aaliyah’s neck.

The girl’s stomach contents included watermelon, and there were no half-digested pills or gel caps, Steele testified.

An examination of a small part of Aaliyah’s brain showed damage consistent with an acute lack of oxygen, said Steele. That part of the brain is particularly susceptible to damage from oxygen loss.

Steele did not conclude her testimony, and is expected to return later in the trial for cross examination by Lewis’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford.

The trial has been running since late October, and with difficulties calling some witnesses due to COVID-19, is now scheduled to extend into December.

The trial has already heard from multiple witnesses, including the people who discovered Aaliyah’s body and several police officers involved in the investigation.

CourtIHITLangleymurder

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snowfall warnings Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 for parts of the Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon. (Jennifer Feinberg/The Chilliwack Progress)
Winter storm warnings Thursday for Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon

Snow is expected to become heavier as day progresses with snowfall amounts of up to 30 centimetres

A team with Ann Davis Transition Society takes part in the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser as they walk along Young Road on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
‘Coldest Night’ walk raises nearly $60,000 for new Ann Davis outreach office in Chilliwack

Ann Davis Transition Society thrift shop will be transformed into much needed outreach centre

The University of the Fraser Valley Peace and Reconciliation Centre
UFV students hold online forum on peace and reconciliation

Two online sessions on Feb. 25 include student research

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
EDITORIAL: We shouldn’t have to have a Pink Shirt Day, but we do

‘Children are a product of their environment’

Lucas Frost at the trailhead of Teapot Hill. (Lucas Frost)
Hiking Teapot Hill for organization that helps homeless youth in Chilliwack

Lucas Frost hopes his hiking fundraiser for Cyrus Centre will help get some kids off the street

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Head of internal medicine at Chilliwack General Hospital Dr. Shari Sajjadi talks about the positive feedback hospital staff have received over this last year in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Dr. Shari Sajjadi says a simple ‘thank you’ helps keep up spirits of healthcare workers

‘We are so thankful for the positive feedback we are getting from our patients’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Most Read