Williams death penalty trial beginsUPDATED 8:10 PM HST Mar 11, 2014Video Transcript
Gruesome accounts today of a 5-year-old's death... allegations that could result in the state's first death penalty for her father! Former soldier Naeem Williams is on trial for murder, but his defense team wants to shine the spotlight on his wife. KITV4's Andrew Pereira, was at today's opening statements and joins us with more. Andrew? Yunji, Paula... the ex-Schofield Barracks soldier doesn't deny beating his daughter, but his lawyers say it was Delilah Williams who caused the child's death. The Williams' home at Wheeler Army Airfield became a house of horrors for 5- year-old Talia Williams. The amount of punishment the child endured is difficult to comprehend... U-S attorney Darren Ching says Talia was beaten by her father Naeem Williams almost daily, first with a plastic ruler that the child knew as "Mr. Paddle," then with a belt after Talia repetedly soiled herself. The prosecution alleges Talia was forced to eat her own feces, and was tied to her bed post where she would be whipped with the belt. On the day Talia died, the prosecution says Naeem Williams lied to investigators. The former solider's defense team say Williams doesn't dispute the horrific abuse... but claims it was his wife Delilah Williams who caused the child's death from prior beatings... beatings that included stomping on the girl's stomach. Defense attorney John Phillipsborn says Delilah suspected her husband of cheating on her, and projected her rage onto Talia once the child arrived in Hawaii on Dec. 13, 2004. Phillipsborn also pointed out Naeem Williams was ill equipped to care for a special needs child like Talia, whose development was stunted by malnourishment when she lived with her biological mother Tarshia Williams in South Carolina. But the prosecution says it was Naeem Williams who delivered a fatal blow to Talia's chest on July 16, 2005... causing the little girl to fall forward and hit her head. The defense team says Naeem WILL take the witness stand in his own defence, and evidence will show the plea deal his wife struck with prosecutors was built on lies. Under that deal, Delilah Williams will spend 20 years in prison. The jury that will decide the fate of Naeem Williams consists of seven men and five women. If Williams is found guilty, the jury must be unanimous in recommending a sentence of death. If not, Williams will receive a life sentence. Paula?