A former Hawaii-based soldier who avoided the death penalty in his 5-year-old daughter’s beating death will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
A federal judge in Honolulu on Friday sentenced Naeem Williams to life in prison, capping what was the first death penalty case to go to trial in Hawaii since it became a state.
The U.S. Department of Justice sought the death penalty against Williams for the killing of his daughter, Talia.
Hawaii’s territorial government abolished capital punishment in 1957. But the crime took place on military property, and the case was tried in federal court, where the death penalty is allowed.
During a long and emotional trial last year, jurors heard graphic testimony — including from Williams — about how he and the girl’s stepmother, Delilah Williams, beat the girl almost daily during the seven months she lived with them in Hawaii.
A federal prosecutor told jurors that the fatal blow the former soldier dealt Talia was so hard it left knuckle imprints on the child’s chest.
Naeem Williams testified he beat the girl often, partly because of her bathroom accidents.
Delilah Williams recounted stomping on Talia. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year as part of a plea agreement.
Jurors who convicted Naeem Williams of murder were then asked to decide his sentence — execution or life in prison without the possibility for release. They deliberated for about seven days before determining they were deadlocked.
Because the jury couldn’t agree, the judge was required to sentence Naeem Williams to a life term.