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Army Spc. Naeem Williams, 25, also of Orangeburg but stationed here at Schofield Barracks, was charged Wednesday with murder, conspiracy, making a false official statement, aggravated assault, assault upon a child and obstruction of justice.
He has admitted to beating the child with a belt and with a closed fist almost daily since March, calling it "discipline."
Army officials say Williams faces life imprisonment if convicted. He is not facing the death penalty because he was charged under a specific section of Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that does not call for capital punishment. That section applies to a person who "intends to kill or inflict bodily harm" -- a charge equivalent to second-degree murder in civilian courts.
The girl's stepmother, Delilah S. Williams, 21, was charged earlier with first-degree murder in U.S. District Court for causing the girl's death "as part of a pattern of practice of assault and torture."
Federal prosecutors will not say if they intend to try her case as a death penalty case. Tarshia Williams says Delilah Williams should face the same fate as her husband. "Both should get the death penalty."
Naeem Williams' military attorney, Maj. John Hyatt, has declined comment on the case. Delilah Williams' federal defender has said she was also abused by her husband and had repeatedly sought assistance from the Army, friends and family to put a stop to the beatings and to leave her husband.
Williams told investigators her husband struck the girl twice on July 16 after she had soiled herself. The second time, the girl fell and hit her head, losing consciousness. She said they delayed calling for medical help because she was afraid police would take away the couple's 4-month-old daughter.
Tarshia Williams said she is devastated, sad and angry over the death of her daughter, whom she last saw in December. "She was doing great, she was happy, she was joyful -- she was just being a little girl."
Although the girl's father was awarded custody that month, the plan approved by the courts said her daughter was to stay with her mother in South Carolina every summer beginning July 1.
But when July came around, the girl's father still hadn't sent the girl home.
"They had her bruised up, so they didn't send her," Williams said, citing reports of the girl's abuse. "I just can't believe they did all of that."
The courts had placed the girl in her father's custody in part because she exhibited developmental delays and a failure to thrive while with her mother. Glenn Walters, Williams' attorney, said the girl didn't have a healthy appetite and her body didn't absorb nutrients effectively. But her condition continued even while with her father, Walters said.
Tarshia Williams said a court order was in also place allowing her to phone her daughter twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. But those calls eventually stopped. She filed papers in court to regain her court-ordered rights, but the matter is still pending.
In a phone conversation before the calls stopped altogether, her daughter told her that she was going to get a beating because she had wet her clothes, Williams said. Delilah Williams allegedly snatched the phone away, preventing her from saying more.
Walters said the state and the U.S. Army must be held accountable for the girl's death and hopes that preventive measures are put in place so that this never happens to another child. He is expected to file a lawsuit shortly.
Army and state officials have defended their actions, saying their response was based on the information available.
Tarshia Williams, who has filed papers to serve as representative of her daughter's estate, said all she wants at this time is to have her daughter returned to Orangeburg so she can have a proper burial.
The defense for Naeem Williams apparently has filed a motion to have their own expert examine the girl, delaying her return home, Walters said.
Talia Williams: Her natural mother said she had been doing well in December
Naeem Williams: He admitted beating girl almost daily since March as "discipline"
Delilah S. Williams: Her defense says that her cries for help for abuse were ignored
Tarshia Williams: Says her child was kept from saying more about her abuse
Mom calls for death penalty in girl's abuse
Talia Williams' father and stepmother both deserve that fate, her natural mother says