In opening statements in Hawaii’s first death penalty case, federal prosecutors said that 5-year-old Talia Emoni Williams died after she was hit so hard by her father that an imprint was left on the child’s chest.
Talia Williams did not die in July 2005 after hitting her head on the floor from a slap to the small of her back as her father, former Schofield Barracks soldier, Naeem Williams told Army investigators, federal prosecutor Darren W.K. Ching told jurors in opening statements Tuesday morning in Williams’s capital murder trial.
Ching said Talia hit her head after a blow to her chest that was so hard that it left an imprint and caused her left shoulder to separate.
Defense lawyer John Phillipsborn told the jurors that Williams admits to severly beating his daughter on the day Talia died. But he said the girl died from other injuries she had suffered earlier at the hands of her stepmother Delilah Williams.
An autopsy performed by the Honolulu Medical Examiner in 2005 says that Talia died from an inflicted head injury due to battered-child syndrome.
Phillipsborn told the jurors this morning that defense medical experts will dispute that finding.
Naeem Williams, 34, is charged with murder for the child abuse beating death of Talia.
He is facing the death penalty under federal law because he is charged with killing a child through abuse or as part of a "pattern and practice of assault and torture."
The federal government is prosecuting the case because Williams was in the Army at the time of his daughter’s death and because the fatal beating happened in military housing at Wheeler Army Airfield.
There is no death penalty under Hawaii law.
Delilah Williams has pleaded guilty to causing the death of Talia and faces a life prison term. However, under the terms of her plea deal with the government, could get a sentence of 20 years instead of life. She is expected to testify as a government witness against her husband.