Hawaii recently concluded its first death penalty case since becoming a U.S. state in 1959, a case in which former soldier Naeem Williams was convicted of killing his five year old daughter Talia.
Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1957 – two years before becoming the nation’s 50th state. Puerto Rico, which is the most likely territory to become the 51st state, abolished the death penalty in the 1920s. However, because the crime was committed on federal land, Naeem Williams’ case came under the jurisdiction of the federal court system.
The defendant in Hawaii’s first death penalty case claimed that the beatings that eventually caused Talia’s death were intended as discipline for her bladder and bowel control issues. Defense attorneys suggested that Naeem Williams’ low IQ and abuse by his stepfather were mitigating factors that should be considered in deciding his fate. For his part, Naeem Williams apologized for killing his daughter and asked the jury to allow him to live.
So, now that the Hawaii death penalty case has concluded, what did the jury decide? Jurors couldn’t decide today whether to impose the death penalty, according to a report in The Tribune. Because the jury is deadlocked, the judge is expected to order Naeem Williams to spend life in prison. Since the judge is expected to sentence Williams to life in prison without the possibility of parole, in all likelihood he will die there.
According to an AP report, the jury tasked with deciding whether to execute Naeem Williams for murdering his five year old daughter spent seven days deliberating without being able to reach a decision.
The child’s mother, Tarisha Williams, had to this say:
“Even though they’re deadlocked, I still feel that I’ve got some kind of closure that the trial is finally over, because I had to wait nine long years, and that was hard…I’m so saddened and hurt by everything that happened to her. It’s going to be a long, hard journey of healing, and I’ll never forget what happened to her, and she will always live in my heart, no matter what.”
What do you think the jury should have done in Hawaii’s first death penalty case? Do you agree with the sentence of life in prison or do you think the jury should have handed Naeem Williams Hawaii’s first death penalty?