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Kelowna court hears that man found dead was beaten, genitals removed

Darren Middleton was found by his widow Brenda Adams on June 17, 2021
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.

The doctor who conducted the autopsy of a man who was found beaten with mutilated genitals was called to the witness stand of a B.C. Supreme Courtroom in Kelowna on Monday.

The deceased, Darren Middleton, was found by his widow Brenda Adams on June 17, 2021, in the blood-splattered bathroom of Gabriella Sears.

In 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, including Middleton and Adams, about their gender identity. Sears now uses the name Gabriella and she/her pronouns.

June 15, the day before Middleton was found dead, began as a fairly typical day, said widow Adams while on the stand.

Middleton had been up late the night before with Sears and had slept in. Adams said that the two friends were working in their shop and drinking. She said that Middleton and Sears regularly worked and partied together.

She also spent time with Sears and said that they had a “great relationship.”

Adams noted that the day before Middleton’s death, Sears was dressed as a woman for one of the first times ever in public, and was wearing “daisy dukes” with her shirt tied up in a knot, exposing her midsection. Adams told the court that Middleton had picked Sears up earlier in the day so that they could do some work together.

Defence asked Adams multiple times if she ever witnessed flirtatious or sexual behaviour between Sears and Middleton and she said no.

The following day, on June 16, 2021, Middleton was contacted by friend and employer Dave Schroeder and asked to do a small landscaping job. According to Adams, Middleton left home at about 4 p.m. to help Schroeder lay sod.

Schroeder is one of the original members of a group called the “Cave Dwellers.” While on the stand as a witness, Schroeder was asked multiple times by the defence if the Cave Dwellers are a motorcycle gang that engages in drug smuggling in the Okanagan. He denied all criminal allegations and explained that the Cave Dwellers are a “friendship club” of “motorcycle enthusiasts.”

Adams also denied all allegations that she and Middleton were involved in dealing drugs.

While on the stand Adams explained that Middleton did not have a phone. When he failed to return home from the job, she texted Schroeder. Middleton had completed only part of the job but left in a hurry, leaving equipment out in the yard and frustrating Schroeder.

At approximately 9 p.m., Adams said that she drove to Schroeder’s property to look for her husband, but Middleton, his truck and dog were nowhere to be seen. She did, however, briefly see Sears who was “prancing” down the street while wearing women’s clothing.

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 Schroeders) 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 approximately 1 a.m. on June 17, 2021, Adams drove to Sears’ house in search of her husband. Sears also did not have a phone.

Adams said that she found Middleton’s truck, with their dog Snoop sitting inside, parked outside of Sears’ house. All of the lights in the home were out but the door was ajar, said Adams. She entered the home and followed the sound of running water to the bathroom, where she found her husband lying on a blood-splattered floor, dead.

Middleton was wearing someone else’s clothes and was surprisingly not covered in blood himself, despite having a large slice gash on his neck, said Adams.

She told the court that her husband appeared to have been beaten and his penis was laying on his stomach, with a knife where his genitals should have been.

Further examination found that his testicles had also been cut off.

During a voir dire before the start of the trial, the court heard evidence that Sears told police that she had killed Middleton after being sexually assaulted. The judge ruled that the confession could not be used as evidence as Sears’ rights were violated by police.

Dr. Doyle, the physician who completed the autopsy of Middleton, took the stand on Oct. 30, to give evidence about what he found.

Doyle said that Middleton appears to have been hit on the head multiple times with a blunt object.

A baseball bat was found in the bathroom beside Middleton. Doyle said that being beaten with the bat could have caused the skull fracture, brain bleeds, eyeball rupture and facial bone fractures that he found while conducting the autopsy.

Doyle will continue giving evidence later in the week.

Throughout the week, a blood splatter expert will return to the stand as a witness for cross-examination and RCMP officers and then will be called next.

The trial is scheduled to continue for eight weeks.

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

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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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