Months before the death of 5-year-old Talia Emoni Williams, her father and stepmother discussed sending her to stay with grandparents, but they wanted to wait until her bruises disappeared and the hair missing on her head had grown back, federal prosecutors say.
Three days before her death, the couple stopped putting clothes on her because she kept soiling herself, according to prosecutors.
More disturbing details of the abuse the girl suffered prior to her death were revealed in statements given to Army investigators by the girl's father, Naeem Williams, and stepmother Delilah Williams.
KITV4 NEWS Bail for the stepmom of Talia Williams, 5, is denied based on abuse that allegedly caused the girl's death
The statements were cited by federal prosecutors at a hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court to support their request that Delilah Williams be held without bail.
"The life they had her lead and the death she suffered shows these individuals had no regard for human life," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Purpura, noting that the investigation is moving rapidly and uncovering new details every day. "The abuse of this child truly is the stuff of nightmares."
Delilah Williams, 21, is charged in a July 18 federal complaint with first-degree murder for causing the death of her stepdaughter two days earlier "as part of a pattern and practice of assault and torture."
Her husband, an Army soldier, is in a Pearl Harbor brig while the Army's own investigation into his daughter's death continues. He has yet to be formally charged.
Delilah Williams' attorney, first assistant federal defender Alexander Silvert, opposed detention, saying she should be placed in a halfway home with electronic monitoring, not prison.
He argued that her husband was the one who admitted to beating the girl on July 16.
Silvert said she had repeatedly sought the assistance of the Army, family and friends as early as December 2004 and January 2005 because her husband was abusing her and beating his daughter constantly for soiling herself.
"She was unfortunately in a relationship she could not get out of even if she tried, which led to these unfortunate events," Silvert said.
U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren sided with federal prosecutors who argued that Williams should be detained because she is a flight risk and a danger to the community and because of the seriousness of the potential penalties she faces.
Kurren said he believed there was evidence that Williams participated in the events that led to the girl's death.
"At a minimum, she acquiesced in this brutal horrible sequence of events that are almost too hard to read (which) demonstrates to me clearly she would pose a very serious flight risk" and danger, Kurren said.
Purpura said the statements that the Williamses gave to investigators speak for themselves.
The discussions the parents had with each other showed they were well aware that what they were doing to the girl was "horrific and awful" and that they would be reported if they turned her over to family before her injuries healed, he said.
"We talked about her bruises and hair missing and once she got better, send her to his parents," Delilah Williams told investigators in her statement.
Not only did Naeem Williams admit to beating his daughter almost every day, including twice the day she died, they also took away all the furnishings and bedding in her room and left her alone unsupervised in the home while they went to work.
When asked by investigators on the day Talia died what should happen to her husband, Delilah Williams responded, "I think he should go to classes, therapy, parenting classes, not prison," Purpura said, reading from her statement.
Williams herself had admitted to striking Talia with a belt and open hand beginning in March but stopped in April, Purpura said. In her statement, Williams admitted stopping not because it was immoral or improper, but because Talia began retaliating by grabbing the belt or digging her nails into Williams' arm, Purpura said.
But Silvert argued that Williams reached out to others, including her family, to stop the abuse against herself and her stepdaughter.
He said on July 8, a cousin of Williams, Chasidy Taijeron of Texas, called state Child Welfare Services to report that Naeem Williams was beating his daughter, after getting a phone call from Delilah Williams. Taijeron provided the name of the child and the parents' names to the social worker, he said.
Derick Dahilig, spokes- man for the Department of Human Services, said Child Welfare Services received an anonymous call on July 11 saying that the girl's stepmother had cussed at the child and sometimes made the child sleep on the floor. The caller gave the name of the child and her stepmother but did not give contact numbers or an address and did not call back with more information, he said.
The social worker who received the call conducted extensive searches through several databases to try to locate the girl with no success, Dahilig said.
"We take every call of abuse and neglect seriously at the Department of Human Services, and we do what we can with the information provided to follow up with appropriate action," he said.
Taijeron could not be reached for comment.
Williams had spoken to Taijeron many times about wanting to leave her husband in December and January because he was abusing her but was persuaded by family and friends to stay, Silvert said.
When Williams tried to get her husband to stop beating his daughter, he refused, saying he was the natural parent and she had no business telling him how to discipline his own child, Silvert said.
On July 4, staff at the day care center Talia was attending called military police about a bruise on her arm, and she was examined by a military doctor. The doctor was told Delilah Williams disciplined her with the soft end of a belt, but they released the girl and never called state Child Welfare Services, Silvert said.
They apparently found no evidence of abuse, and the doctor said it wasn't a problem as long as it was "proper discipline." [Emphasis added]
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