Manling Williams life spared for now as jury deadlocks on penalty
POMONA - A jury deadlocked Monday in its deliberations whether to give a Rowland Heights woman the death penalty for hacking her husband to death and smothering her two young sons.
The jury of six men and six women for the penalty phase of the trial of Manling Williams' deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the death penalty, officials said.
A hearing was scheduled for Jan. 11 to determine the next course of action, according Shiara Davila, spokeswoman for the Los Angles County District Attorney's Office.
"At that time, the district attorney's office will announce whether we intend to retry the penalty phase," Davila said. "In the event we do, we will do so with a brand new jury."
Williams, 31, was convicted 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 Aug. 7, 2007.
Despite the hung jury in the penalty phase, Williams' previous murder conviction stands, Davila said.
Messages with Williams' attorneys were not immediately returned for comment.
The jury deliberated for a few hours Nov. 22 and all day Nov. 23 before taking three days off for the Thanksgiving holiday period.
They then deliberated all day Monday before coming back with a verdict just before court closed at 4:30 p.m.
If the district attorney's office opts not to retry the penalty phase, Williams will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Davila said.
Neal Williams' mother, Jan Williams, said she was still processing the decision after court Monday, but she may prefer life without parole compared to another round of the penalty phase.
"I certainly don't want to do it all over again," Jan Williams said. "It would be just the penalty phase all over again, but they would have to give them all the background. I don't think I can listen to all that again."
She said she knew it would be a tough decision for the jury and a deadlock wasn't a surprise. She had hoped a decision would be made, one way or the other. She was surprised that the jury deliberated for only two full days.
"I thought they would make them deliberate longer," Jan Williams said. "That is not a close split, though. It is not like it is one person holding out. They must have come to a point where they knew it was useless to talk to each other about it anymore. It was hard. We got kind of weepy."
Before the decision Monday, the jury had asked the judge which penalty was greater - life without parole or death, Williams said. The judge instructed the jury that was their decision to make and that both penalties were acceptable under the law.
At this point, either penalty would be acceptable for Williams.
"I am relieved the conviction part is over," she said. "That was my main concern. But I really didn't want to have to do this over again. It was hard the first time, I don't want to do it again."