Trial begins for woman accused of killing daughter

Bethany Butler
Bethany Butler was found stabbed to death Oct. 27, 2014. Her mother is on trial for the murder.

Prosecutors say Tamara Butler stabbed her 6-year-old daughter dozens of times in their family home, opening the case against the wife of a high-ranking Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officer.

The Crown laid out its case Tuesday in the first day of a four-day judge-alone trial of Butler for the October 2014 killing. Police found Butler before dawn on Oct. 27, 2014, standing on a beach in East End. The body of her daughter Bethany was in the front seat of a nearby car, covered with a blue comforter.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards told the court that she plans to present forensic, DNA and blood spatter evidence proving that Butler killed her daughter that night.

She said the young girl had dozens of stab wounds to her head, neck, chest and back. There were “pools of blood” in the house, and footprints in the blood showed that the girl had gone behind the bed to the space between the headboard and the wall.

Ms. Richards said the evening before the child died, Butler had decided to shave her daughter’s head, but her husband, Lenford Butler, stepped in and stopped her. Mr. Butler had to work at George Town Police Station at midnight that night, so before he left their Savannah home, he gave his daughter his cellphone and put 911 on speed dial, showing her how to call in case of an emergency. The child locked herself in the master bedroom when her father left.

She did not call. But, the prosecutor said, there was an attempted 911 call from the phone at about 10:38 p.m.

Ms. Richards told the court that before 5 a.m., two patrol officers in East End, unaware of what Mr. Butler had found, came across the defendant’s car parked along the highway in East End.

They stopped and saw Butler in the bush off the road, her foot stuck in the rocks and several bedsheets on the ground nearby. Ms. Richards said the officers saw she had blood on her hands, so they gave her one of the sheets so she could get herself out of the hole in the sharp rock. The officers asked her if she was OK and then “she got into the car and drove off,” the prosecutor said.

The police officers called her husband, the critical incident manager on duty that night for the police service. Mr. Butler was on his way to check in on his family in Savannah when they called, having had to turn around and drive back to George Town to get his house key.

The officers, joined by another patrol car from Bodden Town, then searched the area. About an hour-and-a-half later, they found the car, and Bethany Butler’s body, along a small road to the beach about a half-mile from where they originally saw Butler.

The girl’s head had been shaved.

About an hour later they found the defendant nearby on the beach, wet and sandy. Her head, too, had been shaved, along with her eyebrows. The judge-alone trial is scheduled to last four days, ending Friday.

Mr. Butler began his testimony Tuesday but had not concluded by press time.