Murder trial begins for former Schofield soldier over daughter’s death

Courtroom sketch by Wayne Takazono

Nearly a decade after he was arrested for murder, a former Schofield-Barracks-based soldier is finally going to trial.

Naeem Williams is accused of beating his 5-year-old daughter, Talia, to death on July 16, 2005. According to court documents, Williams hit his daughter because she wet herself.

The case is raising eyebrows because, if convicted, Williams could be given the death penalty. Even though Hawaii doesn’t allow it, the alleged murder occurred at Wheeler Army Airfield, which is federal property.

On the first day of Williams’ murder trial in federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Ching outlined the prosecution’s case. In Ching’s opening statement, he said “Talia’s death was inevitable.” Ching said there was a pattern and practice of assault and torture of the five-year-old girl.

Williams is charged with five counts, including child abuse and felony murder and obstruction of justice. Ching said Williams lied to investigators who came to the scene of Talia’s death.

There is also a charge of conspiracy. Prosecutors claim Williams and his wife, Delilha, beat and tortured the child over a period of six months. Delilha has entered a guilty plea and will testify against Williams at some point during the trial. She’s already been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Williams’ attorney, John Philipsborn, told the jury that Naeem was controlled and manipulated by his wife and that she was more to blame that Williams. He plans to call witnesses who will testify that the ultimate cause of Talia’s death was not a blow to the head, but incidents leading up to that tragic day.

The witness list is long and the trial is expected to take weeks.

Photo of Talia Williams

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