Jury considering Williams' eligibility for death sentence - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Jury considering Williams' eligibility for death sentence

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Jurors began deliberating Thursday whether Naeem Williams and his crime meet the criteria for a death penalty.

Among the eligibility elements is the question of whether Williams intended to kill his daughter Talia in July, 2005, after he struck her and she fell and hit her head.

"This is an incident that happened in the context of discipline," defense attorney Michael Burt told the jury during closing arguments.

But Department of Justice attorney Steven Mellin said it was the culmination of an escalation of intentional violence.

"He increased the pain. He increased the suffering. He intended all of it," he said.

Five-year-old Talia had trouble controlling her bladder and bowels. Williams admitted beating her frequently with a belt and his fists, often after she soiled herself.

Burt blamed Williams' brain.

"The cold reality is both defense and government experts found important deficits in Mr. Williams," he said.

But Mellin argued that Williams was a Schofield soldier at the time of the crime and was not intellectually impaired.

"This is a straightforward case of the torture and killing of a child," he said.

If the jury finds Williams eligible for the death penalty, it will then have to decide whether he should be executed or sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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