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‘Large amount of blood’: Mountie testifies in Kelowna murder, mutilation trial

Gabriella Sears is charges with murder and interfering with human remains of Darren Middleton
A Sycamore Road home in Kelowna cordoned off as police conduct an investigation after a man was found dead at the residence on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

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

An RCMP officer has testified as to what he saw when walking into the home where a man was found murdered and mutilated in Kelowna court on Nov. 6.

On the 16th day of what is scheduled to be a 44-day murder trial, Cpl. Craig Van Every of the Kelowna RCMP returned to the stand as a witness.

He was one of the Mounties involved in processing the accused at the police station and the collection of evidence at the crime scene.

Gabriella Sears is on trial for charges of murder and interfering with human remains. On June 17, 2021, Sears was arrested under the name Dereck Sears and was publicly identified by police as a man. However, Sears is a transgender woman. At the time of the incident, she had told only a few people about her gender identity. Sears now uses the name Gabriella and she/her pronouns.

The beaten and mutilated body of Darren Middleton was initially found by his widow Brenda Adams in Sears’ blood-splattered bathroom on Sycamore Road in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood early in the morning on June 17.

Earlier in the trial, the doctor who conducted the autopsy of Middleton gave evidence as a witness. He said that Middleton had been beaten by a blunt object, causing bleeding in his brain and multiple skull fractures, likely causing death. Middleton also had several deep cuts on his body and neck, but the lacerations are not believed to have caused his death, said the physician. He also said that Middleton’s penis had also been severed and his testicles had been cut off.

Middleton’s common-law wife Brenda Adams was the first to find him.

She told the court that her husband was lying on his back in the bathroom of Sears’ home.

Adams said that Middleton was clearly dead when she found him and he appeared to have been beaten and his penis was laying on his stomach, with a knife where his genitals should have been. She also said that he was dressed in clothes that were not his.

Adams had gone looking for her husband after he failed to return home from a landscaping job. Sears and Middleton had a friendship and often worked together for long hours late into the night. Adams said that she also had a good relationship with Sears and was among one of the few people who knew that she was transgender. Van Every testified a baseball bat and a box cutter knife were found at the scene of the crime. He said that there was a “large amount of blood,” on the floor and walls of the bathroom. Van Every told the court that Sears’ house was very messy and smelled of urine.

He described seeing rat feces on multiple surfaces in the cluttered home.

Sears was arrested shortly after the body of Middleton was discovered. Van Every said that while being processed at the police station Sears said that she had been hit on the back of the head with a shovel.

Van Every took photos of Sears’ injuries including her hands, which had reddening of the knuckles, her face, where a black eye was forming, and her legs where there was a red mark on her inner thigh.

Sears was wearing short jean shorts at the time of her arrest, said Van Every.

In a voir dire that took place to determine the admissibility of evidence before the trial, the court heard that Sears told the arresting officers that she had been sexually assaulted.

According to evidence given during the voir dire, Sears claimed twice that she was sexually assaulted by Middleton and said that she killed him in retaliation. However, the two confessions were not permissible in court as the judge ruled that Sears’ rights were violated by police.

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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