Talia Williams would have been 14 in March.
Instead, her father will go on trial for her murder next month in what could be Hawaii’s first death penalty case. Jury selection began last week.
Federal authorities are seeking the death penalty against Naeem Williams, 33, who officials say murdered his 5-year-old daughter by beating her to death. An autopsy showed the child suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Williams was an Army specialist stationed in Hawaii at the time of Talia’s death in July 2005. The two lived in Army housing, along with Williams wife, Delilha Williams .
Authorities say the child, who at one time attended Mellichamp Elementary School in Orangeburg, suffered several months of abuse from her father and her stepmother.
Delilha Williams, the stepmother, admitted to investigators she had stomped the child, telling Talia she hated her before the child died.
Delilha Williams is now serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder.
Naeem Williams was given custody of his daughter seven months before her death. Investigators said he used duct tape to secure the child to a bed post where he then taped her eyes and mouth shut before whipping her.
Talia’s mother, Tarsia Williams of Orangeburg, won the right to sue the U.S. Army four years ago, alleging the military did not protect the child from abuse.
Family members said Naeem Williams’ trial is expected to get under way in March — two weeks before what would have been Talia’s 14th birthday.