Man who killed retired Kingstown Park nurse detained in prison “at the court’s pleasure”
Jurani Baptiste
From the Courts, News
May 19, 2023

Man who killed retired Kingstown Park nurse detained in prison “at the court’s pleasure”

A mentally ill young man who killed a woman on a night when four persons were gruesomely killed here in a four-hour period, was sentenced to be detained at the court’s pleasure after being remanded for seven years having pleaded guilty to manslaughter by virtue of diminished responsibility.

Jurani Baptiste, 25 of Sandy Bay, appeared at the High Court #1 on May 17, where Justice Brian Cottle handed down his sentence.

Baptiste who played cricket regionally as a teenager, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on May 9, in connection to the November 14, 2016 killing of 59 year old Pamela Williams. The deceased was a retired nurse who was killed at her home in Kingstown Park.

While detained, Cottle ordered that Baptiste continue his treatment for a mental Health condition; he will re- appear before the court after three years. The court will then assess whether he is fit to be released back into society. If he is not, he will be re- evaluated again every two years until it is safe for him to be released.

The facts presented by the judge outlined that the woman was killed in the early hours of the morning at her home in Kingstown Park.

Her sister, Florence Glynn, who lives next door was awakened by sounds of dogs barking. Glynn looked out of her window but she saw nothing unusual.

She then received a telephone call from Williams and when she answered, she heard nothing.

Glynn then went over to her sister’s home and she saw her at the bedroom window trying to open it. Baptiste was also seen in the background of the room.

The prisoner then struck the deceased several blows using an object that he had in his hands.

Glynn then called to the neighbours for assistance and two men went to her aid and were able to subdue and apprehend Baptiste after a struggle.

Baptiste tried to escape, but the men prevented him from doing so. Other villagers were then awakened and went to the scene and assisted in subduing Baptiste.

Williams was pronounced dead, and an autopsy revealed that she died of multiple stab wounds and severe blunt force trauma to the head. There were multiple fractures to her skull resulting in her head being grossly deformed.

The court also heard that her skull was fractured and bone fragments were kept in place only by the scalp, and that her brain was lacerated in many areas.

Baptiste was hospitalized after being injured during the incident. The following day, after he was treated he told the police during an interview that voices in his head had told him he now had the power and he should go and fight. However, he said the voices had not told him to kill.

On the night of Williams’s death, four persons were killed in St Vincent and the Grenadines  from around 11 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, to 2 a.m. on  Monday, November 14. Police suspect that the killings may have been committed by one person.

Dead were Edinboro resident Nicholas Layne, 35, (attacked in the public road at Cocoa, Campden Park); Avis Israel, 75, and her son Ronald Israel, 47, (both of Old Montrose and attacked in their home); and Pamela Williams of Kingstown Park, 57, (attacked in her home).

The theory of the police is that perpetrator moved from area to area, unleashing terror and leaving carnage in his wake.

Jurani Baptiste was caught in Kingstown Park at the scene of Williams’s murder. He was beaten by civilians who handed him over to the police who later charged him with Williams’s murder.

Cottle told the court that the prisoner was mentally evaluated, and on September 3, 2020 a psychiatric report indicated that Baptiste had a history of mental illness and was first referenced by a District Medical Officer as he was displaying signs of abnormality.

Due to this, he was diagnosed with cannabis use disorder and psychotic symptoms.

He did not do his follow up appointments at the Mental Health Centre, and was subsequently admitted there again in September, 2016.

In June 2020, an evaluation was done and he was still psychotic and displayed signs of bipolar disorder and needed continued care. As a result, he was deemed not fit to enter a plea.

Baptiste continued his medication and in February 2021, after another evaluation, he was deemed mentally stable and found fit to stand trial. Since then he has continued to take his medication to suppress anxiety and mood swings.

Justice Cottle highlighted that manslaughter is a serious offence as it means life has been lost. Therefore, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

He added that Baptiste was convicted of manslaughter by virtue of diminished responsibility. This he said, is an indication that his mental responsibility for his actions and his ability to make rational decisions and exercise self control must have been substantially impaired.

Cottle further noted that a judge would be assisted by medical evidence in the determination of the level of responsibility that any particular offender retained. Additionally, he said the judge must bear in mind the need to protect the public from some offenders by removing them from society if they continuously pose a threat.

He also noted that facilities in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the treatment of mentally ill offenders remain quite limited. The judge also said medical evidence has shown that Baptiste requires sustained medical treatment to maintain his mental stability and in the past, results show that he failed to comply.

Cottle noted as well that the prisoner represented SVG in regional cricket and though he habitually used cannabis he understands the nature and gravity of his actions and expressed remorse.

The crown who was represented by Assistant DPP Tamika McKenzie, in their sentencing submissions indicated that the court should be assisted by the guidelines which apply to cases of manslaughter by reason of an unlawful act. However, defence Counsel Kay Bacchus- Baptiste, made it clear that the court should not follow the guidelines, arguing that the victim did not have the requisite mental responsibility at the time when the offence was committed. The defence argued that it is clear from the psychiatric report that Baptiste was mentally ill, hence he pleaded diminished responsibility.

And she urged the court not to treat Baptiste as any other person who had committed manslaughter, but to ensure he is not lost in the system.