By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JUDGE imposed a 15-year sentence yesterday on a “paranoid schizophrenic” woman who fatally stabbed her father a year ago.
Justice Carolita Bethell had been asked by the Crown to consider that 24-year-old Antonia Butler remained a danger to society given that her victim, Anthony Butler, was unarmed and the attack on January 9, 2016 was unexpected.
Mr Butler, a lecturer at the former College of The Bahamas and Valley Boys Junkanoo member, was stabbed in the chest during an argument at his Imperial Park home on the Saturday in question.
He was pronounced dead by EMS personnel upon their arrival at the scene.
Two days after the incident, his daughter was arraigned in Magistrate’s Court facing a murder charge.
At that arraignment, she was told by Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt that she would not be allowed to enter a plea to the charge until she was formally arraigned in the Supreme Court.
Butler then claimed to be the daughter of the late Princess Diana and told the court she had been in exile in the Bahamas for some time.
The accused asked to be remanded to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (CRC) instead of prison, claiming she was pregnant and feared the prison’s foul odours and food.
The chief magistrate made a note of the complaint and a recommendation for a psychiatric exam to determine whether the accused should be transferred to the facility.
The 24-year-old appeared before Justice Bethell on Wednesday where Butler pleaded not guilty to murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
In a sentence hearing held yesterday, Dr John Dillard confirmed the 24-year-old had been admitted to the SRC on four occasions since the age of 16 and was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
“It is believed that lack of compliance with taking her medication, compounded with marijuana abuse, led to the fatal incident,” the judge was told.
“Provided she takes her medication, and you said she’s improved since the first time you saw her and that you will continue treatment when she’s in prison, in the long run will she be fit to be released to the public?” the judge asked.
“The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services is responsible for the delivery of medication and that is important here,” the physician said.
“It is my opinion that she can be rehabilitated and that her condition has been improved with sufficient monitoring. It is important to understand that if she’s not treated or if she continues to use psychoactive substances, it is possible she can become aggressive,” Dr Dillard added.
“What happens if she’s not fit for release prior to the conclusion of her sentence? Because I have to take that into consideration,” the judge asked.
Dr Dillard said she would have to be treated at the SRC if that were to be the case.
Shaka Serville, lawyer for Antonia Butler, told the judge that his client had not wasted the court’s time or resources in going to trial and was extremely remorseful for her actions.
He also said that as a result of what transpired, the convict did not have any more parents left as her mother had previously died from cancer.
Mr Serville also said that his client wanted to make amends with the family.
Prosecutor Abigail Farrington urged the court to consider the serious nature of the offence, that the victim was unarmed, that the attack was “totally unexpected” and that Antonia Butler “remains a danger to society.”
Justice Bethell, before imposing the 15-year sentence, said: “One of the worst crimes is taking another’s life but it was compounded because she took her father’s life.”
The judge ordered that she receive treatment, counselling and therapy during her incarceration and that she be accessed before the expiration of the sentence.