‘Night My Wife Set Daughter On Fire’


Tribune Staff Reporter


A MAN fell asleep with all three of his children by his side, only to wake up the next morning to discover that his schizophrenic wife had taken the youngest one and set her on  fire at the behest of “demons”, jurors heard yesterday.

Sergeant Tamika Gibson testified she was told how Phillipa Marshall took her one-year-old daughter Philicia Marshall away to another room, poured gasoline on her and set her ablaze while her husband Isaac Marshall and two sons slept soundly.

Sgt Gibson said when she arrived at the Marshall’s Faith Gardens residence on the morning in question, she noticed Philicia had no skin on her arms, hands and legs and that Marshall was getting the baby dressed to take her to the hospital.

The evidence came during Marshall’s trial over allegations she caused her daughter’s death by means of unlawful harm.

Prosecutors allege the 41-year-old doused her child with gasoline and set her alight in December 2017 at her Faith Gardens home after ‘hearing voices’. The child died in February 2018 after having been cared for at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

Taking the witness stand before Justice Bernard Turner yesterday, Sgt Gibson, a police prosecutor formerly attached to the Carmichael Road Police Station, said at around 2.23am on December 28, 2017, she was on mobile patrol with another officer when she received information from police control room. As a result, the pair proceeded to a home in Faith Gardens.

Upon arriving at the residence and gaining entry, Sgt Gibson said she observed five people in the front room. Mr Marshall and his two sons, ages seven and three, were seated on the couch. Marshall was seated on the floor, attempting to put a pink sweater on Philicia, who was lying on a tan blanket next to her.

At that point, Sgt Gibson said she noticed the baby did not have any skin on her arms, hands or legs. However, she said the child was not crying. The officer said she also saw a burnt diaper as well as a burnt, yellow onesie near the young child.

Sgt Gibson said Mr Marshall told her—in his wife’s presence—that at around 10.30pm on December 27, he fell asleep on the floor with his three children next to him. He said he awoke around 2.50 the following morning, and when he did, realised his daughter was no longer on the side of him.

Mr Marshall got up and started searching for his daughter. His search led him to one of his son’s rooms, where he not only found his wife, but also his daughter, who was lying on his son’s bed with her skin “falling off”.

Sgt Gibson said Mr Marshall told her he observed a burnt pillow and red blanket on his son’s bed. Sgt Gibson said Mr Marshall told her that when he asked his wife what had happened, she did not respond.

Sgt Gibson said as a result, she immediately cautioned Marshall, who in turn told her demons told her to kill herself and her daughter. Sgt Gibson said Marshall told her that she threw gasoline on the toddler and lit her afire.

After cautioning and arresting Marshall, Sgt Gibson said she made checks of a northern bedroom where a red, car-shaped children’s bed was situated. And on the bed, was a burnt pillow and a burnt, red blanket.

Moments later, an ambulance arrived and took Philicia to the hospital. Marshall, meanwhile, was transported to the Carmichael Road Police Station and booked.

Detective Sergeant Donna Barr, attached to the Central Detective Unit (CDU) testified how Marshall refused to answer any questions about what led to her daughter suffering burn injuries when she interviewed the woman months after the incident, and almost two months after Philicia had died.

According to Det Sgt Barr, on February 10, 2018, she received information concerning a complaint made by Mr Marshall about Philicia, who was in the Children’s Ward at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Her mother, meanwhile, was detained at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC).

As a result of the information received, Det Sgt Barr said she made a number of routine checks at PMH to ascertain the medical condition of Philicia. She also conducted checks at the SRC to ascertain her mother’s medical condition.

Det Sgt Barr said while at the CDU on February 15, she found out that Philicia had died. The senior officer said sometime around 11am the following day, she visited the Rand Laboratory at PMH and observed Mr Marshall identify Philicia’s body as that of his daughter.

On April 6, 2018 Det Sgt Barr and another officer escorted Marshall and her attorney, Bjorn Ferguson into an interview suite at CDU.

In response to a question put to her by Mr Ferguson in cross-examination, the interview came after Marshall was released from the SRC. Det Sgt Barr said she received certain documents from SRC officials prior to conducting the interview.

She said once in the interview suite, she identified herself and the other officer to Marshall and informed her of the reason for the interview. She said she subsequently asked Marshall various questions pertaining to her personal information, such as her date of birth, address and occupation.

According to the officer, Marshall answered those questions, giving her full name as Phillipa Arnette Marshall and listing her occupation as housewife.

However, Det Sgt Barr said when she asked Marshall about the events that led to the injuries Philicia sustained, the woman stated that she wished not to answer those questions. And neither did Marshall want to sign the record of interview, Det Sgt Barr said.

Det Sgt Barr said she ultimately ended up charging Marshall. She added that throughout the interrogation process, Marshall appeared calm, aware of what was taking place, and did not hesitate to answer the questions she did.

The case continues.

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