Jurors will begin deliberating whether a former Schofield soldier should be put to death for killing his 5-year-old daughter Thursday morning in the state's first death-penalty case.
Jurors unanimously convicted 34-year-old Naeem Williams of murdering his 5-year-old daughter Talia after beating her for months with a belt, a ruler and his fists.
Now, they must unanimously decide his fate.
"If one person says, 'No, I'm not for the death penalty', he has to do life in prison," explained Ken Lawson, a law professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa.
Jurors were given 35 pages of instructions outlining the aggravating factors that were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Among them are that Talia's death was especially heinous because it involved torture and physical abuse, and that Talia was particularly vulnerable because of her age and special needs.
"It's not the number of factors, it's the validity of the factors. One factor can outweigh everything. If they think that this guy was just a monster and there was absolutely no excuse in any way, shape, or form for his behavior and he should get the death penalty, he gets the death penalty regardless if they have 2,000 mitigating factors. One aggravating factor can wipe out everything. Just as one mitigating factor, such as mercy," explained criminal defense attorney Victor Bakke.
Jurors also received 149 mitigating factors to consider in Williams' plea to spare his life. Among them are claims he is intellectually impaired and believed Talia's developmental delays could be corrected through physical punishment.
"You can get through 149 mitigating circumstances and all the other aggravating factors that they have to weigh, but the bottom line comes down to justice -- do they believe the man should die in their heart of hearts? That's what it's going to come down to," Lawson said.
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