"It's a 'yes' or 'no' answer, Mr. Williams!" It's a phrase Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mellin had to use several times Wednesday during cross examination of Naeem Williams.
The former soldier is accused of beating to death his 5-year-old daughter Talia Williams in 2005.
Naeem admits that he and the girl's stepmom Delilah Williams beat her almost every day after getting custody of the girl in early 2005, mostly over issues with potty training.
On July 16, 2005, Naeem said he punished her several times, first with a belt and fist for spitting toothpaste all over the sink.
Later that day, he hit her on the back for wetting herself. He said he hit her so hard, Talia fell and hit her head on the concrete. She immediately started seizing and later died.
The Schofield Barracks soldier cried while on the stand as he described the events that day. But he turned defensive and frustrated as the government began cross examination.
U.S. Attorney Steven Mellin: "Was it your intent to inflict extreme physical pain on your daughter?"
Naeem Williams: "No, Sir."
U.S. Attorney Steven Mellin: "What was your intent when you were beating her down?"
Naeem Williams: "All I wanted to do was stop her from using the bathroom on herself."
Naeem said that Delilah would make him punish the girl or would start an argument if he didn't. The shift in blame is what frustrated Mellin, who hammered Naeem with question and question about the abuse.
Naeem mostly hung his head. He took a long time to answer each question and instead of a "yes" or "no," he would often start his answers with, "What you have to understand."
Mellin would interrupt him and repeat the question.
One question that held up the trial for several minutes, when Mellin asked, "Are you admitting that you are responsible for causing the death of Talia?"
After rephrasing it several times and after a long, dramatic pause by Naeem, he finally said, "I was the last one to hit her. After I hit her, she went down, didn't get back up."
The trial continues Thursday.
Naeem could get the death penalty if convicted.
Delilah Williams took a deal and is serving 20 years.