By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE trial of a man accused of killing his elderly mother was underway in the Supreme Court yesterday, with a physician, who confirmed Princess Butler’s death, giving evidence.
Dr Austin Davis was called to the witness stand to speak of his actions following a phone called he received shortly before 8am on February 4, 2015.
The physician, who has been employed by the Public Hospitals Authority for nearly 38 years, told prosecutor Uel Johnson that he was in his private vehicle at the time in Cable Beach near Baha Mar when he received a phone call and received certain information.
“What did you do as a result of that phone call?” Mr Johnson asked.
“I proceeded to the home of Mrs Butler,” Dr Davis said, adding that the commute to Highbury Park took “20 to 25 minutes.”
“I saw Mrs Faith Butler-Cleare and her husband, that’s who met me at the residence. Mr Cleare escorted me to the bedroom and I saw a sheet which actually covered Mrs Butler. The body was at the front of the bed and she was on her right side in a semi-prone (partially face down) position,” the jury heard.
As Dr Davis was giving testimony, 57-year-old Jerome Butler was seated behind his lawyer David Cash.
Butler is on trial before Justice Indra Charles accused of intentionally and unlawfully causing the death of 81-year-old Princess Butler, his mother.
The victim was found dead in her home at Petersfield Road in Highbury Park shortly after 8am on February 4, 2015.
An autopsy revealed that she died of asphyxia, which resulted in police launching an investigation.
Her son was arraigned in Magistrate’s Court 12 days later in connection with the death.
He pleaded not guilty to murder when formally arraigned in the Supreme Court three months later.
Butler has retained attorneys Ian Cargill and Mr Cash to defend him against the allegation.
Mr Johnson and Halicia Delancy are prosecuting the case for the Crown.
“Did you notice anything peculiar about the room when you were examining the body?” the prosecutor asked.
“There was nothing peculiar but there was a tiny blood stain about an inch in diameter,” Dr Davis said.
“Did you note any bruises?” Mr Johnson asked.
“No. The room was not very well lit but that’s to be expected for a bedroom,” the physician said.
With Justice Charles’ permission, Dr Davis was shown photos taken of the deceased by Crime Scene Investigator Constable Navar Neely at the Rand Laboratory at Princess Margaret Hospital two days after she was found dead.
The physician said that the bruising under the left eye, left nostril and lip were not visible to him at the time of his cursory examination.
“Was the small bit of blood on the sheet the only blood you saw?” Mr Johnson asked. Dr Davis said yes, adding that he placed the sheet back over her and pronounced her dead by the time police arrived.
“Were you Mrs Princess Butler’s private physician?” the prosecutor asked.
“No (but) I knew her for many years as we attended the same church, St Matthews Anglican Church,” the physician said.
Mr Cash, in cross-examination, asked the physician if there was anyone else present at the home other than Mrs Butler-Cleare and her husband when he arrived.
“If I remember correctly, I think it was one of her other sons, Jonathan . . . I don’t know if he was in the residence though,” Dr Davis said.
“How many officers arrived?” the defence lawyer asked. The physician said two but could not recall their names. “Could the (flash) light have assisted you with your observations in finding those bruises?” Mr Cash then asked.
The physician said “theoretically it would have” but he was only looking to determine for signs of life.
“You said there was nothing unusual about the body but if you did notice anything unusual, you would’ve put it in your report?” the lawyer further probed.
“Yes I would,” Dr Davis said.
“Did you ever examine the arm?” Mr Cash asked.
“I did not remove the body from its position. My task at the time was to confirm the individual was deceased,” the physician said
“At the time you observed the body, did you have any suspicion of foul play?” the defence lawyer asked.
“No I didn’t,” Dr Davis said. He also said he did not note any suspicion of foul play in his report.
Mr Cash asked the court for permission for Dr Davis to be shown a copy of the death certificate allegedly filled out by Dr Davis who verified the authenticity of the document due to his signature.
The cause of death was natural causes, the physician read when asked.
In re-examination, Mr Johnson asked Dr Davis if he performed an autopsy with respect to the deceased.
“No I didn’t,” the witness said.
The case resumes today.