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Friday, July 29, 2005
Soldier faces life
His wife, Delilah S. Williams, 21, a civilian, is being held without bail at the Federal Detention Center. She was charged in U.S. District Court with first-degree murder "as part of a pattern and practice of assault and torture" in her stepdaughter's death.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner has concluded that the girl died as a result of inflicted head trauma "due to battered-child syndrome."
Naeem Williams, who has been held at the Pearl Harbor brig since his daughter's death, is awaiting an Article 32 investigation, said Maj. Stacy Bathrick, 25th Infantry Division (Light) and U.S. Army-Hawaii spokeswoman. The hearing is similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian courts where the defense will be able to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.
Williams' military attorney and family members could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents filed in federal court in Delilah Williams' case, the stepmother told Army investigators that her husband beat his daughter twice the day she died because the girl had soiled herself. The second time, the girl fell and hit her head on the floor and lost consciousness, Delilah Williams said.
She said they delayed calling for help because they feared police would take away their 4-month-old daughter. Emergency personnel were eventually called to the Williamses' Wheeler Airfield home, and the 5-year-old was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital where she died upon arrival.
Alexander Silvert, first assistant public defender for Delilah Williams, said at Williams' detention hearing earlier this week that Naeem Williams admitted to investigators that he beat her that day.
In his statement, Williams said that he used a belt on his daughter almost every day as discipline and also used his closed fist. He said he began hitting her in mid-March to discipline her and continued to do so knowing that she bruised and that she was prone to falling, Silvert said.
Naeem Williams also admitted that blood spatters observed inside their home were from blood spurting from scars reopening when he hit his daughter with the belt.
He was removed from the couple's home and placed in barracks at least three times, the most recent on July 4 because of domestic altercations, according to Silvert.
His wife had sought assistance from family, friends and the military as early as October about wanting to leave her husband because he abused her psychologically and continually beat his daughter, Silvert said.
In February, Naeem Williams was arrested after the day-care center his daughter was attending reported a bruise on her arm to military police.
The girl was taken to a military doctor to be examined for nearly six hours but was allowed to return home. The doctor who examined her and who was aware that Delilah Williams disciplined her with a belt found no evidence of abuse, Silvert said.
Delilah Williams was questioned but not arrested. Military officials failed to report the matter to state Child Welfare Services as required, Silvert said.
Prosecutors have declined comment on whether they will seek the death penalty for Delilah Williams under federal law. But at her court hearing this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Purpura said the Department of Justice lists child abuse murders as "so heinous" and that a pattern or practice of assault against a child warrants first-degree murder.
Silvert has said that prosecutors must seek the death penalty if they indict Delilah Williams with first-degree murder.
Prosecutors must first obtain approval from the Department of Justice for it to proceed as a death penalty case, and it could take a few months before a decision is made.
Meanwhile, the attorneys have agreed to postpone her preliminary hearing to Sept. 9 from Aug. 1. Prosecutors could indict her before then. Silvert said earlier he was hoping to talk with prosecutors to discuss the case and avoid having it tried as a death penalty case.