Stepmom: Ex-Hawaii soldier's daughter hit often
JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Mar. 15, 2014
HONOLULU (AP) — The stepmother of a 5-year-old girl who prosecutors allege was beaten to death by her father testified Friday that she and the former soldier abused the girl regularly, escalating to her death.
The federal trial allows prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in a state that doesn't have capital punishment, a rarity.
Delilah Williams said in the capital murder trial against Naeem Williams that they decided to pull the girl, Talia, out of elementary school because they worried that school officials would notice the abuse and have them arrested.
"She started having marks on her body," Delilah Williams said, noting that she and Naeem Williams dressed the girl in clothes that covered the marks while the special needs child was still enrolled in school then left her at home by herself after they pulled her from classes.
The testimony will satisfy terms of a plea deal the stepmother made with prosecutors in which she acknowledged her role in killing the child as part of a pattern and practice of assault and torture. The agreement calls for a 20-year sentence.
Delilah Williams — who worked as an administrator registering children for daycare at Schofield Barracks — said she and the father repeatedly cursed at Talia, called her names and hit her almost daily.
Williams said she was mandated to report suspected abuse as part of her job.
Naeem Williams could face the death penalty if convicted of murder in the July 16, 2005, death.
Delilah Williams said Naeem Williams bound the girl to a bedpost with duct tape before beating her with a belt. In one of those taping incidents, she said, she recalled the child having a "pleading look."
The stepmother said she attempted the taping routine once herself but found it wasn't effective because the girl was still able to squirm around.
Much of her testimony was delivered with an even, calm voice. But she sounded like she was going to cry when she described a beating she inflicted on June 29, 2005.
Williams said she came home from work that day and saw that Talia had wet herself.
She forced the child to sit on a toilet and pushed on her stomach so hard that a toilet pipe broke, causing a leak. She said she then grabbed Talia by the hair and slammed her head against a wall.
It wasn't the first time she grabbed the child by the hair, she said, describing a time when she pulled Talia by the hair at the top of her head because she was slow going up the stairs. "A big chunk of her hair" came out, she said.
She also described another incident when her husband punched the child in the stomach for eating a doughnut. The girl wasn't allowed to go downstairs to eat while she was home alone, Delilah Williams said.
Naeem Williams is expected to take the stand during the trial, his defense attorney John Philipsborn told jurors in his opening statement.
Philipsborn said his client was poorly equipped to take care of Talia and was married a controlling, angry woman who took control of his finances and other daily tasks.
Jennifer Sinco Kelleher can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jenhapa