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Mentally ill killer sent to Sandilands for six years

A mother was sentenced Thursday to six years at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) for the murder of her one-year-old daughter.

Philippa Marshall, 41, a diagnosed schizophrenic, will be transferred to the mental health hospital within 60 days to begin serving the sentence for killing her infant daughter, Philicia, Justice Bernard Turner ruled.

Marshall could be released before six years if a psychiatrist deems fit.

Marshall, who did not testify at her trial, told police that demons had told her to kill the child and herself.

Complying with this directive, Marshall grabbed the sleeping child and doused her with gasoline before setting her afire at her home in Faith Gardens in a locked bedroom on December 28, 2017. The child died from complications from the burn wounds on February 14, 2018.

Marshall, who has two sons, began experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations after the birth of her second son, the court heard.

Prior to the murder of her youngest child, Marshall’s neighbors told a probation officer that she would blow her car’s horn in the middle of the night. One of the neighbors reported that Marshall told her stop working obeah.

Marshall attempted suicide in 2016 and sought psychotherapy, but discontinued her medication after she continued to hear voices.

Marshall underwent an exorcism that was witnessed by her brother-in-law, who recalled her “speaking without opening her mouth, as if she had a demon inside her”.

Marshall’s lifelong pastor, Bishop Christopher Minnis, said that he thought she was under a “spiritual attack”. She reportedly improved after he prayed for her, but later suffered a relapse.

In sentencing, Turner accepted submissions from defense lawyer Bjorn Ferguson that Marshall could be committed to SRC under the Mental Health Act since murder no longer had a fixed penalty and Marshall suffered from a mental illness at the time of the crime.

He rejected calls from prosecutors Kristan Stubbs and Tommel Roker to jail Marshall for 30 years.

Turner said, “The fact of the matter is that a child is lost and the family has been ruptured. I sought to do justice, according to my understanding, of the law. If I’m incorrect, then the Court of Appeal is available for review and appeal.”

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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