A federal prosecutor told jurors Friday that an ex-soldier deserves the death penalty in the murder of his 5-year-old daughter, saying “he knew full well how important it was to protect” her, the Associated Press reports.
Steven Mellin, a trial attorney in the Justice Department's capital case unit, made his argument during the sentencing phase in Naeem Williams' trial in the 2005 beating death of his 5-year-old daughter, Talia, the news service reports.
Williams was convicted of capital murder in April on allegations that he beat and tortured Talia almost daily when she lived with him while he was stationed in Hawaii, eventually killing her.
"He knew full well how important it was to protect to Talia," Mellin said, according to the AP. "He had just been given custody of her because she had been malnourished by her mother."
But defense attorney Michael Burt pleaded for mercy, given that Williams has two other children. Further, the jury should also consider Talia's stepmother, Delilah Williams, who pleaded guilty to her role in the death. In exchange for a 20-year sentence, the AP says, she testified against her husband in graphic detail about abuse they both inflicted. Some of the horrifying abuse involved whipping the child with a belt while she was duct-taped to a bedpost, the report says.
Burt also emphasized that tending to a special-needs child like Talia would be difficult for anyone, the Associated Press writes, "let alone someone with Mr. Williams' intellectual limitations."
"It's simply not fair to inflict the ultimate sentence of death for Mr. Williams when Delilah Williams will someday soon see the light of day if she gets her 20 year sentence," Burt said, according to the AP.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled that Delilah Williams must wait until jurors in Naeem Williams' trial have been dismissed before she will be sentenced, the report says.
Read more at the Associated Press.