Soldier gets life in prison for torturing and killing his five year old daughter

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Reported by Liku Zelleke

Naeem Williams, a former U.S. Army soldier who had been found guilty for the beating death of his 5-year-old daughter has been sentenced to life in prison. The sentencing by a Honolulu jury was carried out in Hawaii’s first such capital case since it became a state in 1959.

The jurors told U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright that they had arrived at the decision because they had been unable to agree on the death penalty even after spending seven days in deliberation. The deadlock meant that the only available option was a sentencing of life in prison without parole.

During the trial, Steven Mellin, a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s capital case unit, said that Williams deserved the death penalty because “he knew full well how important it was to protect Talia. He had just been given custody of her because she had been malnourished by her mother.”

The sentencing will be carried out formally at a later date.

On Thursday, jurors sent a note to the judge that said they had reached a decision but that they wanted to delay its reading until the following day. Accordingly, it was done at a 9 o’clock hearing.

On April 24th, the jurors found Williams, 34, guilty of two capital offenses. “One is for killing Talia in their military family quarters at Wheeler Army Airfield on July 16, 2005, through child abuse. The other is for killing her after torturing her for months,” reports said.

The child’s stepmother, Delilah Williams, pleaded guilty to her role in the child’s death in a plea bargain that reduced her sentence to 20 years in prison. She testified against her husband and recounted in graphic detail the torture they inflicted on Talia. She described one such incident where Talia was whipped with a belt while her hands were tied to a bedpost with duct tape.

Judge Seabright ruled that Delilah would be sentenced after the jurors in Naeem Williams’ trial had been dismissed.