A death penalty trial is underway against a former Hawaii-based soldier accused of inflicting a fatal blow to his 5-year-old daughter that left knuckle imprints on her chest.
Naeem Williams faces the death penalty even though Hawaii abolished capital punishment in the 1950s. That's because he's being tried in the federal justice system, where there is a death penalty.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Ching told jurors in his opening statement Tuesday that the blow that killed Talia Williams in July 2005 came after months of neglect, assault and torture at the hands of her father and stepmother.
"The defendant's focus was on himself, covering up the months and months of abuse," said Ching.
Ching described Delilah Williams as a "wicked stepmother." She pleaded guilty in exchange for testimony against the former soldier.
Defense attorney John Philipsborn told jurors Naeem Williams also plans to testify. He said his client was ill-equipped to care for a child, and called the situation a tragedy.
"She's placed with a father who barely knows her and is completely unequipped to deal with her," said Philipsborn. "He made a choice to ally himself with his wife, when he should have allied himself with his daughter."