By Gemma Handy
The woman found at the scene when Piccadilly resident Jane Finch was discovered dead inside her home last October has been charged with murder, exactly 10 months after the incident.
Brittany Jno-Baptiste, 22, was declared fit to stand trial in the latest evaluation of her mental state.
The written report – dated July 25 and which Observer has seen – reveals that four urine samples taken in mid-July showed no more sign of the cannabis use which was said to have triggered her “psychotic disorder”.
A statement from police yesterday afternoon confirmed Jno-Baptiste had been charged with killing Finch, who would have celebrated her 67th birthday tomorrow.
Finch was found dead shortly after 9pm on October 4 2021 with what appeared to be multiple wounds about her body. Jno-Baptiste was arrested and taken into custody, but only charged with burglary pending a psychiatric evaluation.
In June, Observer reported that previous urine samples had repeatedly confirmed the presence of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
Fears had abounded that access to the drug in the national prison, where Jno-Baptiste is being held, could stymie justice.
The first psychiatric report submitted to the courts on January 24 made multiple links between Jno-Baptiste’s unstable mental state and her “heavy and chronic marijuana use”.
“Her history and reported symptoms at the time of the alleged murder/burglary meet criteria for cannabis use disorder and cannabis-induced psychotic disorder,” it said, adding that a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which can cause hallucinations and delusions, was also under consideration.
The report, written by the country’s lone psychiatrist Dr James King, recommended Jno-Baptiste be re-evaluated in six months’ time. With Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital full to capacity, the young woman was remanded to prison in the interim.
The Director of Public Prosecutions previously said a defendant must understand the nature of the charge they are facing.
In the latest evaluation, Jno-Baptiste was said to be “much less physically restless and it was easier to engage and maintain her attention”.
The report, again written by Dr King and leaked to Observer, continues, “She was able to follow the flow of the conversation, overall found to be cognitively intact. She denied any symptoms consistent with psychosis (incoherent thoughts/hallucinations/delusions).
“This is a notable improvement in comparison to her presentation at the first evaluation. She also denied having any current suicidal/homicidal ideation, intent or plan.”
The report concludes, “It is writer’s opinion, after completing this evaluation on July 21 2022, that Ms Jno-Baptiste has the mental capacity to participate in a trial.”
In June, Finch’s sister Joanna told Observer that the family would “wait patiently” and that they retained faith in the system.
“We are united as a family. We are very strong and feel grateful for the support we are getting from Antigua and Jane’s friends all over the world,” she said.
“There’s a lot of love that’s come forward because of Jane’s death and we are grateful for that and we believe justice will be served.”
Joanna Finch previously described her sister as her “rock” and one “full of love, kindness and generosity”.
Canadian-born Finch – a writer, sailor and tour rep – had lived in Antigua for more than 40 years and was a well-known face around the English Harbour community. A celebration of her life is being held in Canada tomorrow.