Close relatives of murdered teenager, Britney Baptiste flocked to the St. George’s No. 1 Magistrate’s Court last week Thursday for the start of the Preliminary Inquiry into her death.
The15-year-old who was a student of the Happy Hill Secondary School (HHSS) was found dead on March 11 in a neighbour’s plot of land in an area within Good Hope, St. Paul’s.
The husband of her sister, 44-year old Demlyn Murray also known as Dumplin of Simon, St. Andrew, has been charged with Capital Murder in connection with the death.
The first witness to appear for the State is medical practitioner, Dr. Francis Martin who was called out to view the body when a fellow villager discovered it.
Dr. Martin told the Chief Magistrate, Tamara Gill who is presiding over the PI who spoke of seeing “obvious bruises” on the victim’s face, and the pupils were “opaque”.
A medical doctor for some 16 years, Dr. Martin told the court he
could not determine when the teenager died as it would have required more specific examination for which he is not qualified.
Dr Martin who is employed as a Senior Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health also examined the accused when he was held in custody at the St. Paul’s Police Station on March 21.
He said he did not know at the time of the examination that Murray was the prime suspect in the murder.
He spoke of seeing bruises on the right side of the man’s face, as well as a linear abrasion on the right side of his neck, which could have been caused by a fingernail and a stale bruise on his right elbow.
The second witness to take the stand on behalf of the State is a female pathologist from Cuba who conducted the autopsy on Britney’s body.
The Cuban experts who has been employed with the Ministry of Health as Consultant in Pathology since November 2013 told the court that she performs an average of 200 autopsy a year.
She said that at the time of the autopsy Britney’s body was already showing signs of decay but that multiple small bruises were noticeable under the right side of the breast, right foot and on the left shoulder extending to the hand.
She stated that there were also bruises on the victim’s back measuring five (5) centimeters, multiple bruises on the right side of the face and forehead and bruises behind the neck that could have been caused by external compression.
According to the Pathologist, the conclusion reached was that the teenager died as a result of asphyxiation (a compression of blood vessels and air passages) and manual strangulation.
She estimated the time of death to be sometime on March 19.
Following the presentation of the evidence given by the female pathologist, the Magistrate Court took the decision to adjourn the matter until May 5.
Several villagers told the police investigators that they suspected Murray as the person behind Britney’s death.
The accused was due to appear in court a few days before the killing to answer a charge of rape brought by police against him involving the said teenager.
Murray, who was employed as a cleaner at the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) and is married to a sister of the deceased, remained well composed as the first witnesses took the stand.
He denied any involvement in the crime when questioned by police investigators.
Seasoned criminal attorney Anselm Clouden has been retained to defend the accused.
Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Crisan Greenidge, is leading the evidence for the State.
Brittney’s Funeral service was held Tuesday at The People’s Church in St. Paul’s and her body was laid to rest at Mt. Airy Cemetery, St. Paul’s.