Judge ponders murder tariff for Butler

| 03/05/2016 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tamara Butler with daughter Bethany

(CNS): A Grand Court judge will deliver the first ever tariff for a murder case in the Cayman Islands on Friday when he decides the fate of Tamara Butler, who was convicted in March of killing her six-year-old daughter, Bethany, in October 2014. Justice Alastair Malcolm heard submissions Tuesday from both Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards QC and Butler’s defence attorney, Laurence Aiolfi, from Samson & McGrath, regarding the circumstances of Butler’s crime, the requirements of the new law and the time she must serve before becoming eligible for release.

The new Conditional Release Law sets out thirty years as a recommended starting point for a life sentence, which, according to the main part of the legislation, judges should only deviate from in exceptional circumstances. In contrast, the regulations call for the court to consider a long list of mitigating and aggravating circumstances that could increase or decrease that recommend tariff.

On behalf of the crown, Richards argued that there were significant aggravating factors, which were largely disputed by Aiolfi, who focused heavily on the mental health problems of his client and the chaotic circumstances of the murder.

The prosecution suggested it was a partially planned killing, in which Butler may have exaggerated the violence to make it appear as a frenzied psychotic attack. However, the defense made it clear that while her mental health problems may not have led to diminished responsibility, the killing was explained only by her poor state of mental health.

As the lawyers presented their positions to the judge about the sentencing exercise he would be required to go through, Butler, wearing a navy blue tailored dress, sat quietly in the dock. As on previous occasions in court, she seemed entirely disconnected from the proceedings.

Following a trial in which Butler’s mental health was the only question in dispute, Justice Malcolm, who was the presiding judge, did not accept that Butler was psychotic when she killed her child or that she was suffering from such a diminished state of mental health that she was not responsible for the murder.

Nevertheless, there was extensive evidence presented that indicated Butler was at the time of the killing, and still is, suffering from significant psychiatric problems. During interviews with psychiatrists, Butler claimed that God told her to kill the child because she was a demon.

Butler is understood to be the first woman in the Cayman Islands to be convicted of murder since the abolition of the death penalty, although a few women in recent history have been convicted of manslaughter. But she will also be the first person to be sentenced for murder under the new Conditional Release Law, which has abolished the mandatory life sentence without the right to parole, bringing the legislation in line with Cayman’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Whatever tariff the judge settles on, which could be more or less than 30 years, it will only be the minimum term that Butler will serve. At that point, she will be eligible to appear before the Conditional Release Board, which will determine if Butler is suitable for release on licence. If not, she will continue serving until the board finds that she has met the rehabilitation requirements and can be conditionally released.

Butler was arrested immediately after the body of her child, who had been stabbed multiple times with two different knives and another sharp object, was discovered by police. She has been in custody ever since.

Bethany Butler was found wrapped in a blanket on the passenger seat of her mother’s car, which was parked on the Queen’s Highway, East End, early on Sunday 27 October 2014. Tamara Butler was found by police wandering around on the beach in what was described as a catatonic state, seemingly unaware that she had killed her daughter.

Justice Malcolm, who is required to detail and explain any decision that deviates from the 30-year guideline, said he would require a few days to set out his reasons and adjourned the case for delivery of sentence on Friday, 6 May.

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Comments (49)

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  1. AlanP says:

    Many,many medications alter your mental state to a such degree that one can’t control his/her actions. They commit suicides or kill others. I have a family member, young healthy man who was prescribed pain medication for his back pain, the psychological adverse effect was so severe, he describes it as the worst thing that ever happened to him, he was a hairline away from committing suicide.
    There is a documentary on Netflix about it. Watch it. Don’t judge. You never know what is around the corner for you. And stay away from prescription drugs.
    There are no doctors today, but legal drug dealers. They don’t know how to treat or prevent a disease/illness, they are trained to drug you you to death. And get reimbursed for that.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are half right, only medications are not the direct cause of the mental illness. The people that do show the symptoms of mental illness (after) taking whatever medication is due to an underlying mental illness. It was already there and the drugs exacerbated it. Blaming medication that has helped the human race overcome disease, viruses and sickness is ignorance. The real problem starts inside the person’s brain. Not in the lab of hard working doctors.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mental illness has been around since before the discovery of medication. Blaming medication for mental illness is ignorant. People have underlying mental illnesses which become worst with certain medications. Everyone taking the same medication is not gonna display the same type of mental illness if any. People have mental health issues to begin with.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ponders???? LOCK HER UP!!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    People have been killing each other even before we walked upright. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Errin says:

      Yes, men have always been violent and barbaric from stone age; however, this woman slaughtered her own daughter. That speaks volumes dear.

      • Anonymous says:

        In history, woman have sacrificed their first born so that crops would grow. Does that not seem a bit barbaric and deluded?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Judge found she was not mentally ill and he was privy to ALL the evidence and so-called expert testimony. Given that …. let’s move on from that point. She needs to pay for her crime and it should be a very long time in our cushy jail.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is so very sad. What I see in the picture is a totally sane lady adoring her beautiful little girl. There is no question in my mind that something awful beyond words and beyond her control HAPPENED to her. God help her soul.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry 6:30pm, if god didn’t help the little girl why should he help her soul?

      • Anonymous says:

        You are sorry indeed.

      • Anonymous says:

        The little girl is with her Heavenly Father. I am quite certain if she had a choice she would not come back here. Perhaps her mission here was to help bring darkness to the Light. God has his reasons. Our ONLY job here is to trust in that eternal fact.

      • Nee says:

        The little girl is innocent; a child. She only suffered until death; she now resides with God in heaven. Children are guaranteed a ticket to heaven as they are innocent beings. Adults are held responsible and are to be held accountable for taking care or neglecting their own off-spring!

        You get that?

      • Anonymous says:

        7:48am, the only thing I am sorry is the ignorance that people place in god after the fact. God wasn’t there for this little girl, full stop…..why should he have mercy on her soul? Yes she is mentally unstable, she has to be to commit such a crime, but she has no soul!!!

    • SocialiteCommenta says:

      That picture look right to you? Children hang their head for 2 reasons. They did something wrong or if they are unhappy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mental illness is stigmatised all over the world. Maybe if the stigma wasn’t there and if ignorant people didn’t judge others for something they know nothing about then little Bethany would still be alive today.
    I am not blaming the father, but if he knew more about mental illness and was not ashamed, embarrassed or whatever he felt at the time, he would have been more confident dealing with his wife’s behaviour head on. He would have got her the support and medication that she needed instead of sticking his head in the sand hoping that it will all go away. The stigma of mental illness is to blame Bethany’s death not the mother or the father. This is why, as a community we need to eradicate the stigma by talking openly about how we are feeling, without the fear of being judged. Just talking about our mental state might prevent another tradgedy like this happening again.
    Every part of the human body can go wrong, EVERY part, and nobody is completely immune to it. Yes, some people are more likely to suffer from mental illness than others, but at any time in our lives we could suffer some kind of trauma which could be a pre cursor to a mental illness or we could just be born more susceptible to it.
    I am one of the lucky ones, who can bounce right back when something happens to me. I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety or anything like that. I know that just because I don’t have a mental illness doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It definitely doesn’t mean that those who do are possessed by the devil! If you think that, then you too have some kind of mental illness which is caused by brainwashing. We are all Gods children, right? So don’t change the rules just because its something that you don’t understand.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Obviously this type of behaviour is not normal. Who knows the depth of her sickness? Who understands what her state of mind was on the day of the murder? Who knows what drove her to this place in heart and mind to commit this brutal act on her own daughter Unless you can sufficiently answer and address these questions; we are not in a position to condemn. Consequently, let the law of the land decide for now her punishment until she sees her maker?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Your comment makes very good sense except that no one on the face of this earth, neither you or the first poster above, has the right to say that the woman should never see the light of day. GOD put her in this world for a reason and i am quite certain it wasn’t to spend her life behind bars. And i am also quite certain that GOD is capable of fixing whatever ails her.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not everyone or everything has a purpose…and if god created everything then he also created the Devil and his horde of Demons…If everything has a purpose why would he now want to destroy them…You have been brainwashed by your church not the bible. Mental illness is just that…so what you are saying is that your loving god created these illnesses for a purpose…doesn’t sound very loving to me. This woman needs serious help. When someone gets to ill on island for the local hospitals to take care of them they are sent off island for treatment. Why cant this also be an option for mentally ill patience.

      • Anonymous says:

        Utter bull.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure who told you so but I don’t HAVE a church. I do however have a God who did indeed create everyone for a purpose, except you perhaps. I don’t believe in the devil so my God definitely did NOT create him, neither did he create mental illness, THAT was in fact created by man himself. Wow, are you sure there is nothing else you care to get WRONG??? Oh, almost forgot, what on earth is a mentally ill patience?

        • LAR says:

          Actually Satan/Devil was created by God. He was one of the archangels that God created called Lucifer. Unfortunately, because of his pride that originated from his desire to be God instead of a servant of God. He was cast out of heaven as a fallen angel. So you are actually wrong.

          • Anonymous says:

            At least that is what you were told.

          • Anonymous says:

            THAT Satan/Devil is a far cry from the Satan/Devil that the bible describes as a creation of God to ensure that His wayward children are kept terrorized in hell fire for all enernity. You are of course free to believe whatever you like but my God did not create that Satan/Devil.

        • SocialiteCommenta says:

          If you believe in God you have to believe in the devil honey. There is no need for one without the other. You are very ignorant and should keep your views to yourself. You are very removed from reality! Surely you know illnesses and happiness, unicorns and rainbows are god’s creation ….if you going the god route.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can get help for delusions you know!

    • Anonymous says:

      11:34am your comment doesn’t make any sense at all, God put her into this world???? FOR WHAT TO KILL HER LITTLE GIRL??? If god was capable of fixing whatever ails her, he should have done it before she brutally murdered the child. So where was this so called “GOD”??? Why didn’t your GOD save the child. Maybe he could have gave the father some “nagging insight that night not to leave the child with her” oops I think he did, the little girl begged him not to leave her with the mother. I have to agree She should spend the rest of her life behind bars, yes she should get help, but nevertheless she should spend a very very very long time in jail.

  9. Lena says:

    People today have traded the term “possession” for “mentally ill”.

    Sounds better doesn’t it? Sounds more civil doesn’t it and more accepting; as possession relates to Religion and belief etc.

    I am convinced no form of mental health treatment, medication etc. will help her; she is gone. She stabbed her daughter to death, stabbed her approximately 60-70 times; I dare any of you to try stabbing a whole turkey or whole chicken (buy it from the grocery store) that many times, tell me if you make it past 10-15 stabs!

    This is a proven fact; the human body gets tired after about the first 10. A person possessed however, would be able to do this. Sick, twisted; but very real.

  10. Renita says:

    In this circumstance she should never see the light of day again. Murdering your own child the way she did is in-excusable! This truly twisted my mind that a woman could do this to a child she carried and gave birth to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Might indicate something about her mental health then eh?

      • V.Barness says:

        If she was mentally disturbed how could she drove all the way to Colliers and not get in an accident? She acted as the demon not that poor innocent child who never get to live to enjoy her little new tooth and my heart chills every time I think of her darling little eyes looking at her own monster mother inflecting those brutal wounds! Soooooo sad! May her little soul rest in Jesus!

      • Anonymous says:

        yes but how can you convince anyone that it will ever be safe for her to come out

    • Anonymous says:

      How I wish these sick minds would leave judgement of this woman to Almighty God. The courts obviously have a job to do but even their conclusions seem questionable as the police themselves testify very clearly that the woman was, quote, “seemingly unaware that she had killed her daughter.” The circumstances of this case indeed should “twist” ANY rational human mind, yet you are quite happy to condemn her to hell forever on what basis i am totally uncertain except that your mind is indeed “truly twisted”.

      • Anonymous says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Truly their intentions seem more murderous than this woman could ever be in her right mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      She was and is mentally ill. The saddest part of this her husband is a police officer and just totally ignored the signs. How do you leave your daughter when the daughter told her father that day mommy is trying to cut my hair and was afraid and he just left. From the transcripts it seems this was a recurring thing with the wife doing abnormal things. I am not blaming the husband, but yet he is a police officer and just ignored the signs. She is mentally ill, no she shouldn’t ever see the light of day, but she does need help!! Cayman is not mentally ill friendly and can’t accept the word. That is why we have these type of problems here in Cayman. Do you think she is the only one this is happening to? For her to stab her child the way she did, we all have to look at that and really say something isn’t right with this woman.

      • SocialiteCommenta says:

        Something must be wrong with her. Even if it was for just a moment. A mother’s love is usually unconditional for her young child. Don’t know about leaving judgment for an earthly act to a heavenly court – straight up ignorance dat!
        I do think now that she has been found guilty something must be done to rehabilitate her. Can’t see a lot of time being taken off thu 1/25 for first time? She has shown no remorse… Then time added for premed, the victim as a child

      • Anonymous says:

        A woman married or not has priority rights to a child in the Cayman Islands. A man or husband usually has little say in the matter to the police or our courts of law, with many children only being kept by the woman for financial reasons.
        I have personally lived though two of my kids being abused, even when I had proof and involved the police after my son was assaulted multiple times finally using a machete by his step father, he was kicked out of the house by his mother for reporting the incidents, Later he was retrieved from his school and questioned in front of his mother and his step-father by a FSU officer. Instead the FSU officer got angry at him for not agreeing to what they had to say as the excuses for the assault. A month later he was requested to go back to live in the same house where he was forced to write letters pardoning for the assault (& to enable his mother to continue receiving financial support).
        In the courts neither Myself or any other witnesses were allowed to testify, instead the judge purged all records of the assault at his lawyer’s request. A case of multiple abuses lastly with a deadly weapon on a child, and our courts erases all records of it, now my son who is grown up stays to protect his mother (who did not protect him), but he has no trust in either the police or the courts for justice, after the case her even admitted past occasions where his step dad sexually abused him.

        • SocialiteCommenta says:

          And why are you here commenting instead of trying to get a JR or something. That isn’t the full story or it’s made up…they wouldn’t question the child before the step father and mother to start.

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