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    1. #1
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      Oct 2010

      Manling Williams - California Death Row

      Neal and sons, Ian, 3, and Devon, 7

      Coroner depicts violent sword slaying in 2007 Rowland Heights murder

      A county coroner's medical examiner detailed the brutal slaying of Neal Williams in court Thursday. Williams was slashed and stabbed 92 times with a Samurai sword.

      Manling Williams admitted to killing her husband, Neal, with the sword in their home on Aug. 7, 2007. She also smothered her children Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow that night. She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

      Manling Williams' attorney acknowledged in court during opening statements that the 30-year-old woman killed her family, but denied she planned the slayings.

      Deputy medical examiner Dr. Vadims Poukens said Neal Williams lost the tips of two fingers on his right hand and broke several fingers while defending himself. He had 22 wounds on his hands, Poukens said.

      Neal Williams also suffered a fatal wound when he was stabbed through the heart, damaging his right ventricle and his aorta, which takes blood to the brain, Poukens said.

      "He would die within 10 minutes,'' Poukens said.

      Both of Williams' lungs were punctured and filled with blood - as much as 500 cubic centimeters in the right lung and 200 in the left, the medical examiner said.

      He also suffered a "through and through'' wound from his back through his neck and thyroid gland, Poukens said.

      One of the other most damaging stab wounds went through his small intestine, he said.

      A "chop'' wound was also apparent on the back of Neal Williams' neck where the sword strike was able to fracture the skull and cause bleeding in the brain, according to testimony.

      The other wounds were classified as "incisive'' wounds whose cuts across the skin are longer than the depth of the wound, Poukens said. The most apparent was one that spanned across Neal Williams' chest from end to end, according to testimony.

      Two toxicology experts also testified Thursday.

      The first testified that Neal Williams had not taken any drugs on the night of the slayings.

      County criminalist Mark Schuchardt said Neal Williams had a small amount of alcohol - about 0.02 percent - in his system, but not enough for an official "positive'' result.

      Manling Williams, in her confession, said her husband had passed out drunk on the night of the killings.

      A small amount of alcohol was found in both his blood and urine, but Schuchardt said it was either from fermentation of fluids or because Neal Williams had drank that night, but was close to being completely sober by the time he died.

      Also on Thursday, a second juror was excused for health reasons. The jury has eight alternates, and two will be substituted before deliberations to fill vacancies.

      There will be no testimony Friday and the trial will reconvene Monday when the prosecution will call its remaining witness before resting its case.


    2. #2
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      Oct 2010
      A mother pays witness to son, grandchildren's murder during trial of killer, former daughter-in-law

      Jan Williams sat in the Pomona courtroom taking notes as a crime scene investigator detailed blood spatter patterns caused during the killing of her son, Neal.

      As prosecutors showed one gruesome picture to the jury, Williams' friend pointed out a toy doll, Pojo the dragon. The doll belonged to Williams' grandchildren, who were smothered to death by their mother, Manling Williams.

      Jan Williams went to correct her friend. The dragon was Puff, she thought. But she couldn't talk.

      "At times, it is like I am writing about somebody else," Williams said. "Then something will hit me."

      Williams started to cry and for the first time in the week-long capital murder trial of her daughter-in-law Manling Williams, she stepped outside before breaking down.

      "Seeing something so familiar right next to this picture of this huge blood spatter, it made it real and intense in that moment," Jan Williams said.

      Manling Williams admitted to killing her husband, Neal - Jan Williams' son - with a Samurai sword in their home on Aug. 7, 2007. She also smothered her children Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow that night. She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

      Manling Williams' attorney acknowledged during opening statements that the now 31-year-old woman killed her family, but denied she planned the slayings.

      Jan Williams, who lived in Whittier at the time of the slayings, has waited more than three years
      for Manling's trial. Now that justice is possible, attending the trial has become both a duty and torture for the family, she said.

      "You have to represent your child and your grandchildren," she said. "(Manling) is represented and the state is represented. We are the representatives of the victims. I always put that in my blog, `Neal, Devon and Ian are represented by' and then list family members there."

      Beyond that, Jan Williams wants answers.

      She didn't know the extent of her son's injuries, the timeline of her son's and grandchildren's death, or the motive behind their murder.

      Without answers, one's imagination can build upon the nightmare, she said. Going to the trial could give her some peace, if not now, later in life.

      "It is a compulsion," she said. "You have to hear these things for yourself."

      But with answers come many hard truths.

      The injuries to Neal were far beyond what she imagined, despite knowing he was stabbed and cut with a Samurai sword 92 times.

      "The first day in the opening statement, the deputy district attorney said (Neal's) fingers and hands were virtually severed," Jan Williams said. "That was not something I knew. It made the whole day surreal. I knew he had a lot of defensive wounds because we had to get him a long sleeve shirt and gloves at Rose Hills."

      And the trial has forced her to relive the dread she experienced in 2007 with more detail.

      "We hear something dreadful every day," she said. "It might not even be something meaningful to the public, but it is to us. Some little thing that was Neal or Devon's. Something that was said that was totally out of character."

      Williams described the experience as surreal, to hear someone she knows and once called family recount a killing.

      "It was kind of hard to see a clip of (Manling) calmly telling a detective what Neal's last words were," Jan Williams said.

      Those words, according to the video confession by Manling, were "help me."

      Jan Williams also was unaware of the affair Manling had with high school friend John Gregory, who testified earlier in the trial. The affair happened about a month before the murders after Manling reconnected with Gregory via MySpace.com, according to testimony.

      Manling, a graduate of Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights, asked Jan that weekend to watch Devon and Ian because she had a work training exercise in Santa Barbara. Co-workers at Marie Callender's said the restaurant does not hold training sessions in Santa Barbara.

      The affair wasn't a shock to Jan.

      "Neal thought once before, early in his marriage, that there had been an affair," she said.

      Manling Williams' family has also been in attendance each day of the trial.

      Jan Williams said she has spoken to them numerous times since the murders and that they helped plan Neal's and the children's funeral.

      "This is their tragedy too," Jan said. "I don't blame them for anything. I was sitting there, watching them at court, and I think they are there for the same reason: they have a need to know. What your child went through, what your grandchildren went through."

      Jan Williams knows that despite the trial possibly going to jury deliberations next week, there is still a long road ahead.

      In a death penalty case, much of the defense case comes during the penalty phase.

      Williams said she believes the murders were premeditated based on the evidence. But death penalty or life in prison, she just wants justice.

      "Practically speaking, for the family of the victim, if she got life or death, it probably wouldn't be over in my lifetime," she said. "Best way would have been a plea bargain for life without parole. No trial, no pain, no dragged-out appeals process."


    3. #3
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      Oct 2010
      Prosecution rests its case in 2007 Rowland Heights triple murder case

      The human digestive system was the subject of contentious debate Monday in the 2007 Rowland Heights triple murder trial of Manling Williams.

      Williams admitted to killing her husband, Neal, with a Samurai sword in their home on Aug. 7, 2007. She also smothered her children Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow that night. She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murders.

      Williams' attorney acknowledged during opening statements that the now 31-year-old woman killed her family, but denied she planned the slayings.

      The time of death has been a point of contention in the trial. The prosecution contends that Williams killed her family before going out with friends for dinner. Both the prosecution and defense called expert witnesses Monday to discuss the determination of time of death using a process called gastric emptying.

      It is the prosecution's belief the children were killed before Williams went to TGIF restaurant with co-workers from Marie Callender's - where Williams worked as a waitress - and have argued that based on evidence the children died within two hours of eating pineapple pizza.

      The prosecution's argument was based on testimony from Los Angeles County Coroner's Office officials and sheriff's forensic scientist and biologist Lynne Denise Herold, who testified Monday.

      Ian and Devon had a small amount of food in their stomachs at the time of their death and none in their small intestine, Herold said.

      "Death must have occurred after eating and soon enough... before digestion" into the small intestine, she said.

      Earlier testimony showed pizza was delivered to the Williams home at 8:22 p.m.

      The defense expert, Dr. Gregory Reiber, differed from the prosecution's expert on a few conclusions.

      Reiber testified the food found in both boys' stomachs had evidence of being far along in the digestive process.

      He also contradicted earlier coroner's department officials' testimony that a small meal of food takes 30 minutes to two hours to digest.

      Instead, Reiber testified that a small meal can take several hours to digest and even longer considering various environmental variables.

      Furthermore, he said gastric emptying cannot be relied upon as a method for determining time of death.

      "If you are talking about a single individual in a single circumstance, it is not scientifically reliable," Reiber said.

      During cross examination of crime scene investigator Flynn Lamas, defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi asked about photos that showed hair samples collected for evidence from Williams' shower.

      Hair collected from the drain was negative for blood, Lamas said.

      Earlier testimony said Manling Williams showered prior to going to TGIF.

      Sgt. Donald Walls, one of the detectives who investigated the case, was the final witness for the prosecution Monday before resting their case.

      Walls testified Manling Williams told him she purchased a pack of Camel Lights cigarettes, gas and Red Bull at a 76 gas station the night of the killings.

      Neal Williams' blood was found on the cigarette pack and Manling Williams said in her video confession that the blood was the evidence that forced her to confess.

      During cross examination, defense attorney Tom Althaus asked Walls if police went to the 76 station and inquired about video or a receipt that would prove when Williams went to the gas station.

      Walls said police never inquired.


    4. #4
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      Prosecution, defense debate premeditation in closing arguments of 2007 Rowland Heights triple murder

      Attorneys asked a jury Wednesday to decide whether a woman killed her husband and children in a fit of rage or if she coldly and methodically murdered them in an attempt to free herself from family life.

      The difference determines whether jurors choose second-degree murder or first degree murder - life in prison or the potential for the death penalty.

      Closing arguments were heard Wednesday in the Manling Williams case, where the 31-year-old is on trial for having stabbed and slashed her husband, Neal, 92 times with a sword in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007. She also smothered her children Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow that night.

      "She felt like a cold-hearted bitch because she committed

      three cold blooded murders," Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese said to start her argument, referencing what Williams told deputies in a taped confession.

      The defense didn't argue against Williams' guilt, but differed on the extent of which she is guilty.

      Defense Attorney Tom Althaus said Williams didn't premeditate the murder of her family and instead acted in a fit of rage.

      "I'm not trying to make excuses or condone anything in this case," he said. "The District Attorney's claim, of course, is this has to do with premeditation. You have to decide if that is what is going on or if something else is going on."

      Althaus said the majority of the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence and assumptions. Considering those issues, the jury should find the defendant guilty of second-degree murder, he said.

      "The whole idea she didn't want to be with her kids ... where does that come from?" Althaus said. "There is not enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that she wanted to kill her husband and her kids," prior to the night of the murders.

      Okun-Wiese said Williams had grown obsessed with a former high school sweetheart with whom she had an affair with a month before the murders, according to testimony. He had broken the affair off days later, but said he would consider rekindling the relationship if Williams was divorced.

      "We have a motive where a defendant wants to be single ... but you think to yourself `is that really a reason for a person to kill and slash her husband and suffocate her kids?"' Okun-Wiese said. "This may be something you never wrap your fingers around."

      Althaus said there was something wrong with the family environment, and that, mixed with a deteriorating marriage, lead to Williams' rage.

      "It is literally unbelievable these folks could live in these kinds of conditions," he said of the trash-filled home shown in pictures.

      The prosecution tried to show Williams' actions leading up to the murders as calculated attempts to eventually pin the children's murder on her husband.

      Williams told friends as much as two months prior to the murders that she was having dreams where Neal suffocated the children and then killed himself, according to testimony.

      "Coincidentally, her children were suffocated to death," Okun-Wiese said.

      Althaus said the dreams showed Williams' mental state.

      "That is a problem in her head, how does that show premeditation?" Althaus said. "How does that set up (her husband) for the crime? It goes against that."

      Althaus also said the manner of Neal's murder contradicts someone who is planning an elaborate murder.

      "Who would plan to kill her husband with a sword?" he asked.

      The prosecution tried to make it clear Williams killed her children first before returning to kill her husband later that night.

      The accusation Williams killed the children when they were put to bed was not reasonable, Althaus said.

      "It doesn't make sense that Manling Williams would kill her kids with Neal in the house while he was on the phone with his sister," he said.

      In the end,Okun-Wiese said the time of death was meaningless because the verdict remains the same either way.

      "Quite frankly, it doesn't matter," she said. "She killed them."

      The manner in which she killed the children also displayed the deliberate nature of the murder, Okun-Wiese said.

      "It is a minimum of five minutes she had to hold that pillow over the nose and mouth of her 3-year-old son, Ian," she said. "Time that five minutes. It feels like eternity."


    5. #5
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      Oct 2010
      Woman found guilty of three counts of murder in Rowland Heights slaying

      A Rowland Heights woman was found guilty Thursday of three counts of first-degree murder in the 2007 deaths of her husband and two young sons in the family's townhouse.

      Manling Tsang Williams, 31, could face the death penalty because the Pomona jury also found her guilty of the special circumstances of multiple murders and lying in wait.

      On Aug. 7, 2007, Williams called authorities to report that she had come home from grocery shopping at 7:30 a.m. and found her husband and her children dead. At the time, neighbors told The Times that Williams ran from her house screaming that her husband had been injured.

      When Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrived and searched the house, they found the bodies of Neal Williams, 27; Devon Williams, 7; and Ian Williams, 3. Prosecutors say Williams stabbed her husband to death with a sword and smothered their two sons, who were in their bunk beds in an upstairs bedroom, with a pillow.

      Manling Williams was arrested for the murders on Aug. 8.

      A medical examiner testified during the trial that Neal Williams had been slashed and stabbed more than 90 times with a Samurai sword.

      The jury returned its verdict one day after closing arguments and final instructions. Testimony in the penalty phase begins Friday, during which the same jury will have to decide between the penalty of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.


    6. #6
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      Death penalty phase could put Rowland Heights killer on short list of death row women

      In a little more than a week, a jury will recommend a life or death sentence in the case of convicted murderer Manling Williams.

      If a jury recommends death, Williams would become part of a handful of women who sit on death row, but it may be decades before her sentence is carried out.

      A jury on Nov. 4 found Manling Williams, 31, guilty of killing her husband, Neal, by slashing and stabbing him with a sword 92 times in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007. She also killed her two children, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, by smothering them with a pillow that same night.

      In the penalty phase of the trial, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will try to convince jurors that Williams deserves to be sentenced to death.

      That phase of the trial begins Monday.

      The difference between a criminal trial and the death penalty phase is the factors of aggravation are weighed against factors in mitigation, said Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

      "We are presenting factors in aggravation and how the crimes have affected people," she said. "Defense is presenting factors in mitigation, which include mental problems of the defendant, bad childhood, any number of things."

      Much of the evidence is personal, rather than fact, Gibbons said.

      "The penalty phase is a much more emotional event because you are basically dealing with life and death here," she said.

      If prosecutors are successful, Williams would become part of a growing list of hundreds of individuals who are scheduled to be put to death.

      Williams' attorney, Haydeh Takasugi, did not return messages seeking comment for this story.

      In California, more than 700 men are on death row, as well as 16 women.

      In Los Angeles County, the District Attorney's Office has sought the death penalty against 113 people since 2001, Gibbons said.

      In those cases, a jury has recommended death for 46 people, Gibbons said. Another 25 were recommended for life without parole, three for lesser sentences, and there are 38 pending cases. One defendant died prior to trial.

      The decision to pursue the death penalty in any case is decided by one person, with the advice of a committee of attorneys, Gibbons said.

      A committee will discuss the merits of pursuing the death penalty, make a recommendation and then the chairman of the committee makes the final call, Gibbons said.

      During those discussions, the committee debates the merits of the case before making a recommendation, she said.

      "What they do and the law is very clear, as to what you can and cannot discuss in making a decision on whether to seek the death penalty," Gibbons said.

      Since 1976, 13 men have been put to death in California. The most recent was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006.

      Allen was 76 years old at the time of his execution and waited 26 years before his execution was carried out following his sentence.

      Jan Williams, the mother of Neal Williams, who grew up in Whittier, said previously she believes Manling Williams premeditated the murders of her son and grandchildren.

      Even so, the justice for her came in the conviction. Death penalty or not, Williams knows she will only see Manling serve time in prison during her lifetime.

      "The reality in California is it is 20 to 30 years before anyone is executed," she said.


    7. #7
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      Oct 2010
      Friends, family detail the impact of 2007 Rowland Heights triple murder as penalty phase begins

      POMONA - Prior to walking down the aisle years ago, Stacy Berssette approached a friend's son whom she had chosen to be her ring bearer.

      The young boy, Devon Williams, was given a stuffed animal - a dog - with which to carry the ring. Berssette had customized the dog with a voice box that could bark as a keepsake for Devon.

      Her friends thought she was crazy to have a 5-year-old boy with a barking stuffed animal at her wedding. But she asked Devon to avoid temptation until the ceremony was over.

      The ceremony passed without a sound. Then as she and her husband took their first steps away as husband and wife, she heard a noise.

      "Bark, bark, bark," Berssette said at the Pomona Courthouse on Monday. "It was probably the happiest sounds I have ever heard.

      "Devon was one of those bright points of life," Berssette said. "He couldn't stand to see someone upset or treated unfairly."

      Berssette recalled memories of Devon and his family at the penalty phase of his mother Manling Williams' murder trial. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for Williams while the defense is arguing for life in prison.

      A jury on Nov. 4 convicted Williams of slashing to death her husband, Neal, and smothering her two sons, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      "At the end of this case, it is the people's contention that aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances as to warrant a death sentence," Deputy District Attorney Pak Kouch said.

      Kouch then briefly introduced some of the friends and family members who would be testifying during the penalty phase as to how the murders have affected their lives.

      "The impact this horrific crime has had on them... the way they celebrate birthdays and holidays, the way they live day to day," Kouch said. "Or the ways they can't live."

      Defense Attorney Haydeh Takasugi asked jurors to consider a sentence of life in prison without parole for Williams' crimes, despite their brutal nature.

      "When the prosecution gave her closing argument and she pointed to the Williams family, but she also had her back to the Tsang family," Takasugi said of Manling Williams' parents and siblings. "Within that story, the heartwrenching story, you will hear about before Aug. 8, 2007. You will hear about Manling Williams, the daughter, the wife and the mother... We have a long and sorrowful second half to go through ... if you keep listening, you will see there is a reason for this woman not to be executed."

      Takasugi took the jurors through some of Williams' life growing up after her parents immigrated to America.

      Williams was an unwanted pregnancy that was nearly aborted, and once she was born, she was the child the family never wanted, Takasugi said.

      "Manling's father will tell you he couldn't believe he would have such a stupid child," Takasugi said.

      As a child, Williams struggled to make friends, at one point stealing money from her parents to buy friends at school, Takasugi said. That incident resulted in a public scolding from her mother that later forced a visit from the Department of Children and Family Services, she said.

      When Williams got pregnant out of wedlock, it only added to her tumultuous history with her parents. She was forced to move out and lived with friends and Neal's mother, Jan.

      Despite that, Williams' murder of her children and husband remain vastly out of character for a woman loved by her friends for her kindness and charity, Takasugi said.

      "For those that showed her love, she gave," she said. "She was a good friend. Some will say she was generous to a fault."

      Yet many of those friends testified Monday that they felt betrayed by someone they once loved.

      While her behavior was out of character, friends said, many now struggle with daily social habits following the murders.

      Anna Mai Taylor, who described Williams as her best friend before the murders, said she has trouble trusting people now, holding onto friends, and is paranoid about her children's well-being.

      "I have no friends," Taylor said, crying. "I can't go anywhere without my children. I always think someone is going to be there trying to kill them."

      Melaney Ramirez, another friend of the Williams' family, shed tears as she recalled how the murders have affected her family.

      Ramirez said her children have been emotionally impacted by the deaths and it has changed their daily behavior.

      "They will cry and cry and cry if they can't say goodbye to every single person," when they leave somewhere, Ramirez said. "They are so afraid they won't be able to see someone again."


    8. #8
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      Peers, friends make case for life in prison for Rowland Heights woman convicted of murdering her family

      The defense in the Manling Williams trial Wednesday continued to depict a culture in Williams' community and home that bred inescapable pressures surrounding academics and social behavior.

      A jury on Nov. 4 convicted Manling Williams of slashing to death her husband, Neal, and smothering her two sons, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      The prosecution is now seeking the death penalty for Williams.

      The defense created a gauntlet of witnesses for the jury who portrayed Williams as an emotionally unstable, socially awkward loner burdened by cultural expectations she could never achieve. They also described her as a compassionate, loving person in constant need of attention and acceptance.

      Despite testimony from her peers, the most powerful case to spare Williams' life may have come from a woman who has only known Williams since she murdered her family.

      Carolyn Lamoureax has volunteered as a chaplain for Los Angeles County Jail in Lynwood for years leading Bible study for female inmates.

      Lamoureax has been asked several times before to testify on behalf of women there. She has turned them all down - except Williams.

      "I work with all kinds of people, probably the worst of the worst ... and they have a real personality defect," she said. "Ling has her problems - she is a troubled person - but she does not have the same personality defect."

      Lamoureax said Williams helps other inmates with Bible study and described her as a "mini-chaplain" in her absence.

      Lamoureax added Williams was a source of support during a recent battle with cancer.

      She asked the jury to give Williams life in prison, even while Deputy District Attorney Pak Kouch presented the facts of the case.

      The defense called witnesses who had lived in the Tsang home as boarders - foreign students whose parents paid Manling's family to take care of them as they attend school in the U.S.

      The witnesses all said Manling Williams' parents called her stupid and treated her harshly because of her lack of success in school. One said she witnessed physical abuse.

      Keiko Kishida, now an attorney, lived with the family for more than three years while attending Los Altos High School.

      Kishida said she empathized with Williams' upbringing that lacked affection from her parents.

      "It was not really a happy home, that I remember," Kishida said.

      Kishida described one story where she suspected Williams had stolen money from her. The consequence was something she wasn't prepared for.

      Williams' father beat his daughter, striking her face four or five times before she ran to her room, Kishida said.

      Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese used Kishida's success against Williams during cross-examination.

      A woman whose parents never said "I love you" and lived in the same home as Williams for several years was later able to become a lawyer, Okun-Wiese argued.

      Kishida rejected the claim.

      "It was probably terrible for her," she said. "My mother did not call me stupid."

      Florance Kang, a friend from junior high and Los Altos High, told a story of Williams bringing candy to school in hopes of garnering friendship and attention.

      Instead, Williams was alone with an empty bag after her classmates took the candy.

      Kang said Williams' mother, Alice Tsang, came a few days later to school and scolded her daughter publicly about stealing money. Kang said Tsang slapped her daughter across the face.

      Jessica Chen, a church peer, said she suspected Williams wasn't happy despite her upbeat nature.

      Chen empathized with Williams' seeming inability to cope with her parents' expectations and constant debasement.

      "You grow up with someone and you have the same experiences and pressures," Chen said, choking up. "And all of this is shocking to everyone. She was not mean. I can't even imagine what happened in her life that made this sadness."

      In the end, Chen said Williams' life was worth saving.

      "In the same way someone can lose their innocence, I believe it can be restored," she said.


    9. #9
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      Oct 2010
      Manling's father seeks forgiveness for daughter

      Kai Tai Tsang, the father of Manling Williams, when asked why his daughter should live instead of receiving the death penalty, stood up and directly addressed his deceased son-in-law's mother, Jan Williams, of Whittier.

      "When talking about this, I feel I owe too much to the Neal (Williams) family," Tsang said. "I feel really sorry. Please forgive me. As a father, I didn't do good. That is why it happened. I am sorry."

      Tsang than bowed to Jan Williams before he was allowed to leave the witness stand, where he had offered his testimony in Chinese.

      A jury on Nov. 4 convicted Manling Williams of slashing to death her husband, Neal, and smothering her two sons, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      The prosecution wants her put to death for the three murders.

      The defense rested its case during the penalty phase Thursday, finishing with testimony from Williams' sister, Dr. Shunling Tsang.

      Unlike previous testimony from friends, peers, clergy, and her brother, Shunling Tsang said she wasn't angry or unhappy about her childhood and experienced little to no mistreatment from her parents.

      Instead, she testified for one reason.

      "To save my sister," she said.

      Tsang testified about how difficult it has been for her family to reveal personal family history in an effort to see Williams' go to prison rather than put to death.

      "These things are family secrets that people don't say in court," she said.

      Tsang said there was a change in her sister in the months prior to the murders.

      "There were days she would call me (at 3 a.m.) and I would ask `why are you awake?"' Tsang said. "I think she just needed somebody to talk to, a friendly voice. Perhaps she was just reaching out."

      Tsang said her sister was a good mother prior to the murders and loved her children.

      She cried as she remembered her nephews.

      "When they died, it was like the joy left the world," she said. "Those kids meant the world to a lot of people."

      She said the loss has left a "giant void" in the lives of her family.

      "I am sure this is not unique to my family, but we were very lost for a while," she said.

      In the face of her sister's crimes, she said death would not achieve anything and asked for the jury to give her life in a prison cell.

      "To me and to my family, the losses have been pretty unbearable and here we are, trying to save hers, though," she said. "When I go to work at my job, I see a lot of death ... I see a lot of tragedy in the emergency rooms and a lot of times my job is to help save lives. And there is nothing I can do, nothing I can prescribe to help ease (Manling Williams) situation or my parents' pain ... there is just no words for how much I want to see my sister live."

      Tsang's words brought tears from not only her family, but others in the audience and even from defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi, who was the one performing Tsang's examination.

      There will be no court Friday and closing statements will be heard Monday before the jury will begin deliberations.


    10. #10
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      Oct 2010
      Attorney's debate life, death in the final arguments of the Manling Williams trial

      POMONA - The death penalty is reserved for not only the worst crimes, but for the worst people - and Manling Williams isn't the ladder, said defense attorney's Monday.

      Defense attorneys Haydeh Takasugi and Tom Althaus made their closing statements in the penalty phase of Williams' trial.

      Williams faces the death penalty after she was convicted on Nov. 4 of slashing to death her husband, Neal, and smothering her two sons, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, with a pillow in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      Throughout the penalty phase, the defense tried to reveal the story of Manling Williams, one they said was filled with "pain, heartache, and diminished dreams."

      Through that story, Takasugi said she hoped the jury would grant her life.

      "This is the hardest thing I have ever done, wondering if I called the right witnesses, that I told you who (Williams) is, that I made the right arguments," she said. "With my heart racing, hand trembling, and voice breaking, I ask you to allow this sister, this daughter, this mother to retreat back to her cell ... to do so each and everyday until she awakes no more ... to do so at the hands of God and not the hands of man."

      Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese spoke with conviction to begin statements Monday.

      "Make no mistake about it, granting life without parole is granting leniency," she said.

      Okun-Wiese asked jurors to consider the impact of the murders in determining a penalty.

      The family of Neal Williams has been damaged beyond repair, she said.

      "The defendant not only took the lives of Neal, Devon and Ian with these murders. She took a piece of Jan (Neal's mother) with her, a piece of Mala (Neal's sister) with her. She ruined more lives than I can count."

      In the end, all those families have left are memories, Okun-Wiese said, as she showed recent photos of Neal and his children.

      "There will be no more additional photographs in these frames," she said. "Never again. In 15 years, 20 years, Jan Williams will have these photographs and nothing more."

      Althaus said a life sentence was not "lenient."

      "Think about the hopelessness of it," he said. "A 30-year-old woman sitting there for 40 or 50 years."

      Takasugi said punishments are nuanced and can't be determined based solely on the crime, but a person's life and character outside the crime are factors as well.

      Williams was a good, charitable person before the murders with no history of violence or criminal behavior, defense attorneys said.

      "A life is measured by its valleys and its hills," Takasugi said. "The prosecution is asking you to measure it by its valleys, and they are deep. But there are hills and some of them are magnificent."

      Okun-Wiese criticized the defense's case that focused on Williams tough and potentially abusive upbringing.

      "When did it become OK in our society to to commit three heinous crimes, kill your children and your husband and to blame it on your mom?" Okun-Wiese said. "This case screams for the maximum punishment."

      Defense attorney Tom Althaus, who made the final statements Monday, said the defense wasn't trying to justify the murders.

      "We are not trying to make any excuses," he said. "We are not trying to blame anybody else. We are not blaming her mom. Manling Williams is responsible for the crime and she will suffer the consequences."

      Althaus discussed one of the factors of mitigation he felt the jury should consider, which was mercy for Williams.

      If that jury members felt sympathy for her, for her life, family and who she is, they could consider that even in the face of her crimes, he said.

      "Pity is not a trade off," Althaus said, often pausing between thoughts and briefly describing the death penalty chamber in San Quentin. "It is something you give for free, something that comes from your heart, that this woman has something worth saving. That's your choice, ultimately. To give her life or decide for her to go to that death chamber and have her family look in those windows and see her die."


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