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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: 3:31 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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