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Isle death penalty defense costs taxpayers $4.3M

Those costs are separate from the prosecution of Naeem Williams

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 03:31 p.m. HST, Jun 30, 2014

U.S. taxpayers paid $4.3 million to defend former Schofield Barracks soldier Naeem Williams against the death penalty, according to court documents released on Monday.

Williams' capital murder trial ended last Friday when the court rendered the jury's verdict in the penalty phase of the trial. The jurors were deadlocked, sparing the 34-year-old Williams from the death penalty.

He will be sentenced in October to spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his 5-year-old daughter, Talia, here in 2005 through child abuse and after months of torture.

In response to a request from the Star-Advertiser, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered the release on Monday of the costs associated with defending Williams and putting him on trial. 

Since 2006, the court has approved nearly $2.9 million for Williams' attorney fees and costs. The court also approved more than $1.4 million for defense expert witnesses, paralegals, investigators, overhead and other miscellaneous expenses. 

Williams' lawyers are court-appointed, so their costs are paid by taxpayers.

In a separate expense, taxpayers also paid $208,518 to select jurors for the case, and pay their attendance per diem and mileage. For the jurors from the neighbor islands, taxpayers also paid for their parking, airfare, taxi, hotel and subsistence.

The Star-Advertiser also asked the U.S. attorney what it cost taxpayers to prosecute Williams. The office of the U.S. Attorney in Hawaii said it does not track costs in a way that would provide an accurate figure for any given case.

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HD36 wrote:
I wonder exactly how taxpayers feel this. Do your income taxes go up or do they take it out of sales tax?
on June 30,2014 | 02:43PM
eoe wrote:
I feel fine about this. This is the cost of living in a society with a functioning judicial system. If you don't like it, maybe you should ask the federal government about why they chose to pursue a death penalty trial in a state/territory that abolished the death penalty in 1957.
on June 30,2014 | 02:53PM
HD36 wrote:
That's not an answer to the question at all.
on June 30,2014 | 04:47PM
Pocho wrote:
plenny more money from where that came from.
on June 30,2014 | 09:53PM
lee1957 wrote:
They pursued it because it is allowed under the federal system, state law be damned. Why didn't the state prosecute?
on June 30,2014 | 07:02PM
lee1957 wrote:
You must be the only one that pays a federal sales tax. You've been snookered!
on June 30,2014 | 07:00PM
BigErn wrote:
And how many more millions to house this loser? Jury should have returned the death penalty. Now I'm hoping that the "sisters" make this animal pay.
on June 30,2014 | 02:47PM
Jerry_D wrote:
It costs a lot more millions to actually put him to death than to stick him in jail for the rest of his life. Jail might cost us, say, $50k a year (multiplied by how many years you think he'll be alive...let's say 20 years, so that's $1 million). Now, compare that with the MANDATORY appeals that must be afforded to convicts on Death Row -- how much will the LAWYERS charge the government (defense AND prosecutors)? Probably a lot more than housing him for life.
on June 30,2014 | 03:27PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
I would have to agree with Jerry. Case in point: In the state of California, if all the prisoners who are currently on death row were instead sentenced to life without parole--as has been the case with Williams--the state would save $170 million a year--$5 billion over the next two decades according to a study done by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Professor Paula Michell.
on June 30,2014 | 05:34PM
AhiPoke wrote:
$4.3M??? I'm presuming the prosecution probably cost the same. This country has gone off the deep end. Ridiculous.
on June 30,2014 | 02:47PM
eoe wrote:
I agree. We need show trials, a 99% conviction rate, and a bullet to the head. You know, like Russia, or China.
on June 30,2014 | 03:58PM
Psyche wrote:
And now we will pay him even more to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life...
on June 30,2014 | 02:49PM
Jerry_D wrote:
No we won't. It costs more to put a convict to death than to house them for life. As we can see in this story, LAWYERS are what costs us an arm and a leg. Put him in jail for life, and we won't have to pay the lawyers anymore. Put him on Death Row, on the other hand, and we'll need to pay not only his public defender attorney, but also the government prosecutor. And the mandatory appeals process can last for decades. That equates to a LOT of money to put a murderer to sleep...
on June 30,2014 | 03:30PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
As odd as this may sound--to keep a dead man walking is much more costly than to keep him alive.
on June 30,2014 | 05:43PM
I dont beleive that stat for a second. Where did you gather your information? To think an injection or a zap of electricity costs $4 million or more is outrageous. I only hope your figures are wrong.
on June 30,2014 | 06:07PM
Jerry_D wrote:
It's not the injection or the electricity that costs millions...it's the LAWYERS, and the legal process in general. Cheaper to stick him in a prison, throw away the key, and forget about him for good. Besides, for those of you who *really* want "justice" served -- don't you think it'll be a greater h-e ll to put a child killer in prison than it is to kill him outright?
on June 30,2014 | 08:35PM
bodysurf_ah wrote:
What a huge waste on garbage
on June 30,2014 | 02:58PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Prosecutor's costs: 5 donuts, 7 coffee, 2 bagels.
on June 30,2014 | 03:24PM
busterb wrote:
I want a rebate of $4.25. Keep the change.
on June 30,2014 | 03:25PM
jbguzior wrote:
What law firm was he using......DoWee Cheatem & How?
on June 30,2014 | 03:29PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Lay, Back & Whacket.
on June 30,2014 | 03:53PM
rayhawaii wrote:
$208,518 to select jurors for the case....... I think the jurors should get about 5 times more pay. What's a few 100k more of tax payers money? State spends our tax money like rain water washing down the drain.
on June 30,2014 | 04:03PM
Jerry_D wrote:
In this case, though, it wasn't the State spending our money. It was the federal government.
on June 30,2014 | 08:36PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Think if the did give him the death penalty, what would the appeal cost, perhaps another $5 million? Next time just through him in the slammer for good and be done with the guy.
on June 30,2014 | 04:08PM
lee1957 wrote:
For another $700K they could have bought zipper lane equipment for the H-1.
on June 30,2014 | 07:01PM
scooters wrote:
It's going to cost us MORE to keep this P.O.S. alive.
on June 30,2014 | 08:51PM
ejkorvette wrote:
SA, your reporting on this issue is excellent! You were very thorough and left no stone unturned. Now take this same type of journalistic tenacity and start reporting on the impact, immediate and future cost of Corrupt Politicians in Hawaii!!! Then conduct a very thorough weeklong report on the Corrupt Shipyard's, Tariff taxes, money laundering on a whole, and don't leave out the over budgeted, overestimated Rail Project. How much does it and will it cost Hawaii taxpayers??? That should keep you busy for all of 2015. Don't forget a investigation on the rampant corrupt Immigration system in the State of Hawaii.
on July 1,2014 | 03:13AM
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