Jurors resume deliberations in death penalty case
HONOLULU (AP) — Jurors resumed deliberations Tuesday on whether a former Hawaii-based soldier should receive the death penalty for the murder of his 5-year-old daughter.
The jury returned to federal court in Honolulu to decide Naeem Williams’ sentence. Jurors can choose a death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of release.
The same jury convicted Williams in April of murder in the 2005 beating death of his daughter Talia.
Jurors completed their second full day of deliberations Friday. They have had Mondays off throughout the trial. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright asked the jurors if they wanted to come in Monday, but they opted to resume deliberations Tuesday.
This is the first death penalty trial in the history of Hawaii’s statehood. Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957 but that’s a possible sentence for Williams because the crimes took place in military housing and he was tried in the federal justice system.
So far, the jury has sent several notes to the judge during deliberations. One note asked for clarification on how to determine if a mitigating factor exists. The jurors are instructed to weigh a list of factors — aggravating elements of the murder the prosecution argues show why the crime was especially heinous and deserves death and mitigating factors the defense argues are reasons why his life should be spared.
The seven aggravating factors include Talia’s vulnerability because of her special needs, including asthma and developmental delays, and Williams’ delay in seeking medical attention for her. Defense attorneys presented 149 mitigating factors, including Williams’ upbringing in a system of corporal punishment. They also said he has an intellectual disability.
During the trial, Williams testified that he beat Talia regularly to discipline her for bathroom accidents. During sentencing proceedings he read a statement to jurors apologizing for the killing and asking them to let him live.
If he’s sentenced to death, he’ll likely be sent to federal death row at the Bureau of Prisons’ facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
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