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Trial underway for man found murdered and mutilated in Kelowna

A Kelowna woman was the first to call 911 after finding her husband’s body
Kelowna Courthouse (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

WARNING: This story contains graphic details that some readers may find upsetting.

When a Kelowna widow discovered her husband’s body, he was wearing clothes that were not his own, with a large gash on his neck and a knife where his penis should be.

Brenda Adams took the stand on the first day of the murder trial for her common law spouse Darren Middleton. On Oct. 16, she told a B.C. Supreme Courtroom in Kelowna, what she saw when she found her late husband’s body at approximately 2 a.m. on June 17, 2021.

Adams was called as the second witness by Crown counsel, in the murder trial. The accused, Gabriella Sears was arrested under their legal name Dereck Sears and is facing charges of second-degree murder and interfering with human remains. At the time of her arrest, the RCMP publicly identified Sears as a man. Around the time of the incident, Sears would publicly present as both a man and a woman, but she now identifies as a woman.

While on the stand, Middleton’s widow explained that on the afternoon of June 16, 2021, her husband left their house to do some landscaping work. Adams said that Middleton took her truck and their dog for the sod-laying that he had planned to do at his employer’s house. When he, uncharacteristically, failed to return home, she began to worry. Adams told the court that Middleton did not have a cell phone, so she was unable to call him. At approximately 9 p.m., Adams took their other truck and went out looking for him.

She drove around their neighbourhood and stopped by the property where Middleton said that he was going to be laying sod. Adams said that her husband’s equipment was still out in the field, but her husband, dog and truck were nowhere to be found.

While looking for her husband, Adams claimed that she saw Sears walking down the middle of the road. Sears was wearing a leather skirt, and white top and was carrying a blue bag, according to Adams.

“Gabby was in her own world,” said Adams. She said that Sears was walking down the middle of the road with her head tilted back, eyes closed and appeared to be dancing.

Crown told the court that Sears had a work-related friendship with Adams and Middleton. It is not yet clear what exactly the relationship entailed.

When asked by Crown why she did not stop to talk to Sears to ask about her missing husband, Adams said; “I didn’t want [the employers] to see me talking to that guy dressed as a girl… I didn’t want them even knowing that I knew him, or her.”

Adams said that she then returned home and began texting and calling her friends and family, trying to get a hold of Middleton.

At 1 a.m., Adams decided to drive to Sears’ house to look for her husband. Adams stated that Sears also did not have a phone.

When she pulled up to the house on Sycamore Road in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood, Adams said that she saw her truck parked in the driveway with their dog, Spook, sitting inside. Adams said that all of the lights in the house were off and everything was silent, but the doors were open.

Adams said that she let the dog out of the truck and said, “Spook, go find Daddy.”

She said that the dog immediately jumped out, and ran into the house through the open door. The dog reportedly sprinted back out of the house and down the street. Feeling frightened, Adams explained that she entered the house calling out to her husband and Sears.

Adams told the court, that the house was dark and quiet other than the sound of running water. While calling out, she walked towards the sound of the tap, which was coming from the bathroom.

There, she said that she found her husband lying on the floor of the bathroom. He was laying on his back, on top of a piece of cardboard, said Adams through sobs.

Although not covered in blood, he had a large gash on his neck.

“It was very very deep. I could see into it,” said Adams.

He was wearing a shorts and a T-shirt. The fly of the shorts was undone and the shift was pulled up, revealing his stomach. Adams said her husband’s severed penis was laying on his stomach and a knife was placed on his groin, “where his penis should have been.”

Middleton’s testicles were later found to have also been removed.

Adams said that the bathroom was smeared in blood and the bathtub was running – it also covered in blood. She said that there was bloody mop in the bathroom.

Adams testified that she remembers her husband looking dead, with pale skin and bulging eyes. Immediately, she began to yell and cry, but she said that she quickly quieted herself when she thought that Sears may still be in the house.

Adams ran out of the house and began screaming for help. Her dog came up to comfort her and she called 911. Adams and her dog Spook waited in her truck for the police to arrive. While she waited, she texted Middleton’s employer and wrote, “Dereck killed Darren.”

When police arrived they secured the scene and Adams gave a statement.

Sears was found and arrested shortly after.

In a voir dire, that took place prior to the trial, the court heard that Sears told police that she was acting only after being sexually assaulted. The confession to police, however, cannot be used as evidence in this trial. Justice Roy ruled that RCMP did not follow proper protocol and the “spontaneous admissions,” are not to be used as evidence in the trial.

If Sears is found guilty of second degree murder, she may be sentenced to life in prison.

READ MORE: 2 murder confessions cannot be used as evidence in Kelowna trial: Justice

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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