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Williams admits to killing daughter, asks jury for life

By Star-Advertiser & Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 6:14 p.m. HST, Jun 4, 2014

Convicted child killer Naeem Williams admitted for the first time in federal court Wednesday afternoon that he killed his 5-year-old daughter and asked the jury that is considering whether to impose the death sentence to spare his life.

"Instead of helping and protecting Talia, I hurt and killed her," Williams told the same jurors who found him guilty last month of two counts of capital murder.

Williams, 34, a former Schofield Barracks soldier, read a prepared statement before the jury after the last witness testified in the penalty phase of  his trial. He is facing the death penalty in connection with the beating death of his daughter Talia in 2005 at their military family quarters at Wheeler Army Airfield.

The U.S. District Court jury will return to court Friday to hear closing arguments then begin deliberating on whether Williams should get the death penalty for the offenses or sentenced to life in prison without possibility for release.

Previously, jurors heard Williams testify that while he was stationed in Hawaii, he and Talia's stepmother, Delilah Williams, beat the child almost daily. He said he was disciplining her for bathroom accidents and because of frustrations he was experiencing in his marriage. 

If Naeem Williams is sentenced to death, it will be the first time in the history of Hawaii's statehood because territorial leaders abolished capital punishment in 1957. But because the crime occurred on military property, the case is in federal court, where the death penalty is available. 

Williams said he wants the chance to be a better father to his two other children, an 11-year-old son who lives in Georgia and a 9-year-old daughter who lives in Tennessee. 

The children testified Wednesday that they enjoy their relationship with him even though he's incarcerated thousands of miles away in Hawaii.

His daughter was born in Hawaii and was an infant when Talia was killed. She said she's visited him at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center -- the same facility where her mother is incarcerated because she pleaded guilty to her role in Talia's death. Delilah Williams testified against her husband as part of a deal for a 20-year sentence.

Naeem Williams testified previously that he delayed calling 911 when Talia didn't get up from one of his blows. He said he and his wife fretted over making sure a relative could pick up the infant.  

The girl said she talks to her dad on the phone every Sunday and emails with him.

The boy said he talks to his father three to five times a month and emails with him a couple times a month.

They discuss what he wants for his birthday or Christmas, he said. 

"We talk about a lot of stuff. We might talk about maybe who's playing basketball or who's your favorite team," the soon-to-be-sixth-grader said. "We talk about stuff like that." 

The boy broke down in tears when asked about how he feels about his father. 

"I love my dad," he said. "I really need him."

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