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    1. #11
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      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."


    2. #12
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      Oct 2010
      Manling Williams death penalty case appears headed for second round

      Prosecutors will again seek a death sentence for convicted murderer Manling Williams, her attorney Haydeh Takasugi said Thursday.

      The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office would not confirm the decision, but said prosectors will announce their intentions at a scheduled hearing on Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

      Williams, 31, 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. Neal Williams grew up in Whittier.

      A jury later deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the death penalty. Since then the District Attorney's Office has been deciding whether or not to pursue a second death penalty phase for Williams.

      Neal's mother, Jan Williams, said she had not been informed of the decision, but she was holding out hope prosecutors would take the plea bargain offered by Williams' attorney.

      "I dread doing it again. I don't want to do it again," she said. "It really serves no purpose as far as I am concerned. Put her away for life and that would be fine with us. We have been through an awful lot and so has her family."

      Jan Williams, her daughter, friends and Manling Williams' relatives all testified in the trial's penalty phase.

      Filled with emotionally charged testimony, family members on both sides recounted memories of their lost loved ones and how the murders affected them.

      In the case of Manling's family, they often shared family secrets regarding Manling's difficult upbringing. In addition, they made the case for Manling's life to be spared.

      From the beginning, Jan Williams had hoped to be spared the prolonged pain of enduring the trial and penalty phase.

      Now she faces the possibility of reliving those memories.

      "I hope ... I don't hold a lot of hope," she said. "We asked them to consider the plea bargain before the trial, and asked them during the penalty phase. I really would prefer a plea bargain."


    3. #13
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      Oct 2010
      Manling Williams to face new death penalty trial

      Judge Robert Martinez on Tuesday ordered a new penalty phase for the murder trial of Manling Williams, a Rowland Heights woman who in 2007 hacked her husband to death with a samurai sword and then smothered her two young children.

      Williams faces the death penalty, but a jury on Nov. 29 deadlocked 8-4 whether to sentence her to death.

      The new trial is scheduled April 18.

      Williams' mother-in-law, Jan Williams, said she wanted only life in prison for Manling Williams.

      Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese said prosecutors took Jan Williams' wishes into consideration but decided to retry the death penalty phase of the trial anyway.

      Manling Williams' defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi said she was "shocked" that the prosecutors were still seeking the death penalty.

      She asked that the trial be held in May, but the judge said he wanted to get it started as soon as possible.


    4. #14
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      Oct 2010
      Woman endures as trial drags on for family's killer

      She had hoped by now to be free of terrible things.

      The mutilated hands of her son that came to her in dreams. The image of the samurai sword police found near his body. Her grandsons' tiny bodies lying so still in their shared bunk bed.

      More than three years have passed since Jan Williams' son and two grandchildren were killed in their Rowland Heights condo, but the trial of the accused murderer her daughter-in-law was built on grisly descriptions that haunted her by day, then mutated into ugly nightmares. The 53-year-old continued to show up at the Pomona courthouse. Weathering the trial, she felt, was her duty.

      When Manling Tsang Williams, 31, was convicted in November of three counts of first-degree murder, her mother-in-law felt the first sense of relief since the killings. Preliminary court hearings and a trial date that never seemed to arrive had kept her life in limbo.
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      Jan cared little whether the jury gave her daughter-in-law life or death. She just wanted it to end, get a fair chance at closure. Maybe some peace.


      Jan and her husband met when they were both cast in a play at Whittier High School. He joined the Army after graduation and they moved to what was then West Germany. When they divorced, he moved to Arkansas and she returned to Whittier to raise their two young children, Mala and Neal.

      Mala, a busy bee who was constantly in motion, liked to be in charge. Neal was content to sit still, watch "Star Wars" and quote Monty Python. The siblings bonded in high school when they joined the band at Whittier High. Mala played the flute and piccolo and would go on to become a music teacher. Neal played the French horn.

      After high school, Neal took classes at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and got a job at Subway, where he immediately took to his co-worker's friend, Manling Tsang.

      "He thought she was beautiful," Jan recalled. "He liked that he could talk to her about a lot of things." Manling soon became pregnant. Devon was born July 26, 2000.

      Several months later, Jan and her daughter-in-law were in the car with Devon. Manling mentioned that if a man wanted to marry a woman, he should first ask the father for his daughter's hand.

      "Well, maybe you should ask for permission to marry my son then," Jan suggested.

      "OK, can I marry your son?"

      "Only if you promise not to hurt him."

      In 2001, Manling and Neal married at a courthouse. Later, they had a big wedding at a Taiwanese church. The couple moved to Rowland Heights, and their second son, Ian, was born in fall 2003.

      Devon was the goofy one, outgoing but patient. He said he wanted to study monkeys when he grew up and attend Whittier College where his grandmother worked. Ian was mischievous, getting his head stuck between the bars of the banister or destroying whatever his big brother had just created.

      One night, Jan came over and was putting her grandsons to bed when Ian requested a rendition of "Puff the Magic Dragon." As she sang, Devon told her he was scared.

      "Why is that?" she asked.

      "Because it says a dragon lives forever but not so little boys," he said in a small voice.

      She told him that the song was about children growing up and leaving their toys behind.

      The memory, once tender, now stings. "I promised him he was safe in his bed, and he wasn't."


      Neighbors heard the shrieking in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, 2007. Manling, her hands and feet spattered with blood, stood outside the Rowland Heights condominium, crying for help.

      Sheriff's deputies found Neal's body at the top of the stairs of the two-bedroom home. The coroner's report would reveal that the 27-year-old had been stabbed more than 90 times. Blood pooled around him and saturated the carpet. The murder weapon, a samurai sword, was found close by.
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      In the nearby bedroom, 3-year-old Ian was tucked under a teddy bear quilt. His 7-year-old brother, Devon, was in the upper bunk of their bed, under a SpongeBob Squarepants comforter. Detectives determined that both had been smothered with a pillow.

      Manling was taken to a sheriff's outpost in Walnut, where she told deputies she discovered the gruesome scene after insomnia had sent her on an early morning drive. "Does anyone know if my husband is OK?" she asked during her videotaped interview. "I want my babies. Please let them be OK."

      Jan was at work when she heard that something had happened. She got a ride to the sheriff's station, where they offered words that didn't make sense.

      "I thought maybe they were in an accident. But murder? Who would murder them? And the boys? Who would kill little boys?"

      She hugged Manling's parents and they all cried while waiting for more news. Manling was being questioned. Standard procedure, Jan thought.

      But her daughter-in-law was never released. A horrible realization began to sink in. Two days later, Manling was charged with murder.

      During the trial, defense attorneys characterized Manling's actions as a fit of uncontrollable rage brought on by an abusive childhood and mistreatment by her husband. Prosecutors said the killings were part of Manling's plans to reunite with a former lover. The jury deliberated less than eight hours before convicting her on all counts.

      But jurors deadlocked on sentencing, unable to decide whether she deserved death.


      Most days, Jan leaves her home in Whittier and drives the short distance to her mother's house where Mala, 32, now lives.

      While her daughter heads to work and her 90-year-old mother bustles about in the kitchen, Jan sits with a crochet hook and plenty of yarn. Looping together hats and scarves to donate to charity keeps her mind busy.

      After the killings, Jan took a medical leave from Whittier College, during which her position in the fundraising department was eliminated. She had worked there for 25 years. Her resumes have gone unanswered. Saddled with depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis, she often cannot afford all 14 of her medications.

      Some friends and family members have become distant, unable to understand why she can't move on. Instead she pours out her emotions on her blog, Grief's Journey. My worst nightmares have always been those in which events happen over and over again, but no matter what you try, you can't change the outcome. My waking life is starting to feel like that, too.

      Those who stuck with her understand that Jan is frozen for good reason. "We used to go to Big Bear, the beach, go to concerts and lectures, discuss books, watch specials on TV," recalled Mala Arthur, Jan's friend and her daughter's namesake. "She's just lost everything. Her life is focused entirely on the pain of loss and the trial."

      After the jury deadlocked, Jan sent a letter to the district attorney's office asking prosecutors to drop the death penalty and accept life without parole. Please, she wrote, both families have been through enough. A death sentence would only bring years of appeals, even more court dates.

      "You feel like you don't matter to either side, like it's just a chess game between them," Jan said. "It's crazy at this point to go through it all again. What is it for? What does it bring to us?"


      Jan walked out of the small courtroom last Tuesday morning, her face somber, blue eyes dull. She had heard of the prosecutors' plans earlier but hoped they might change their mind. They didn't. They said they believed the crimes merited the death penalty.

      The judge told everyone to return April 18 for a second penalty phase.

      Flanked by Mala Arthur and two family members, Jan leaned on a cane and moved slowly toward the exit. A woman rushed by with a brown-haired toddler in tow. Something warm flickered across Jan's face.

      Her family says they won't allow her to attend the next session. She has yet to make up her mind. She doesn't want to relive it, but it's just as painful to sit at home and wonder about the day's events.

      Besides, she's been doing this for more than three years. If she stops now, who then would serve as a courtroom reminder of the victims?


    5. #15
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      May 16 date set for Manling Williams' new death penalty phase

      The death penalty phase retrial for convicted killer Manling Williams will start at in mid-May, officials with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

      A jury on Nov. 4 convicted Williams, 31, 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. Neal Williams grew up in Whittier.

      Weeks later, the jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the death penalty.

      In January, the District Attorney's Office announced it would seek to retry the penalty phase in hopes of convincing a new jury to sentence Williams to death.

      A new trial was originally slated for April 18 by Judge Robert Martinez, but

      Williams' defense lawyers objected to that date.

      The new trial date is May 16, officials said. A routine hearing is scheduled for March 18.

      The District Attorney's Office elected for a second chance on the penalty phase over the objections of Neal Williams' mother, Jan Williams.

      Jan Williams, who attended court each day during the trial, has said that she would prefer that Manling be sentenced to life in prison rather than face another penalty phase.

      During the initial phase, Manling's family members testified to the woman's harsh upbringing.


    6. #16
      Senior Member
      JLR's Avatar
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      Mar 2011
      Right first off the bat.

      Absolutly horrific crime. Really terrible.

      But you do have to ask what on earth is the prosecution doing here.

      The victims family doesnt want the pain of another penalty phase and she wouldnt even be executed anyway.

      Its california for crying out loud!!!

      Why are you still seeking the death penalty??

      It wasnt even a close split like 11-1 or 10-2.

      8-4 is quite a wide margin.

      Quite shocking really.

    7. #17
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Manling Williams' death penalty retrial set to begin in a month

      The retrial of the death penalty phase for convicted murderer Manling Williams is on schedule to begin in early July, officials said last week.

      Various motions that would have delayed the trial have been denied or rectified, and now attorneys are ready to begin jury selection on June 13 and to begin testimony just after the July 4 holiday.

      Williams, 31, 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.

      Neal Williams grew up in Whittier.

      A jury later deadlocked 8-4 in favor of the death penalty.

      The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided in January to retry the death penalty phase over the objections of Neal Williams' mother Jan Williams.

      While she isn't looking forward to the retrial, Jan Williams said she would rather have it sooner than later.

      "I wish it would be all over with," she said. "I certainly would rather do it quicker. I would rather go through it now than have more delays."

      The defense declared a conflict of interest, because a witness planned by the prosecution previously was defended by the public defender's office, according to the D.A.'s Office.

      "After careful consideration, the prosecution determined that the witness's testimony would not be needed for the penalty retrial," said D.A.'s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

      The prosecution agreed not to call the witness in order to avoid the need for new defense attorneys and a lengthy delay, Williams said.

      Defense attorneys did not return messages seeking comment.

      Jan Williams, her daughter, friends and Manling Williams' relatives all testified in the previous penalty phase that lasted about two weeks.

      Family members on both sides recounted memories of their lost loved ones and how the murders affected them.

      In the case of Manling Williams' family, they often shared family secrets regarding Manling Williams' difficult upbringing. In addition, they made the case for Manling Williams' life to be spared.

      A litany of acquaintances who grew up in or around Manling Williams' home traveled to testify during the original case, as well.


    8. #18
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Prosecutors begin second attempt to secure death penalty for Rowland Heights woman

      POMONA - Many of the faces in the courtroom Thursday for the penalty phase of Manling Tsang Williams' trial were familiar.

      Her parents, sister and brother were in attendance, preparing once again to ask for Williams' life to be spared - just as they did seven months ago during prosecutors' first attempt to get the death penalty for Williams.

      And Jan and Mala Williams were there too. The mother and sister, respectively, of Neal Williams - Manling's former husband - were in court to share stories of how they were impacted by the murder of Neal, and their two children, Devon, 7, and Ian, 3.

      There was one big difference in the courtroom, though - the 12 new jurors and eight alternate jurors who are tasked with deciding if Williams will live out her days in prison or face the death penalty.

      Williams, 31, was convicted Nov. 4 of slashing to death Neal with a samurai sword, and smothering their two sons with a pillow in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      Following the conviction, a jury of six men and six women deadlocked: eight favored giving Williams the death penalty while four favored life in prison.

      On Thursday at the Pomona Courthouse, Deputy District Attorney Pak Kouch introduced the new jury - split evenly between men and women - to the Williams family.

      "They died at the hands of this woman," Kouch said, pointing to Manling Williams. "Because of this woman, Neal, Devon and Ian are no longer

      Neal Williams grew up in Whittier.

      Kouch told the jury they will be convinced by testimony and evidence that Williams deserves the "ultimate punishment."

      Defense attorney Haydeh Takasugi attempted to empathize with the feelings of anger, sadness and even vengeance the case may evoke among jurors.

      Still, she asked them to reserve their judgments and listen to the defense's arguments in favor of sparing Williams' life.

      "If you keep listening, in spite of all that you have heard, there is a reason for this woman not to be executed," Takasugi said.

      Takasugi outlined Williams' life, including a history of abuse and neglect from her parents.

      "My client was lost, broken and damaged before she came here," Takasugi said. "Damaged before the date of Aug. 8, 2007. The story of Manling doesn't start or end on Aug. 8 and I want to tell you that story."

      She also alluded to future testimony that will portray Williams as a kind person who was trusted by her friends.

      "Her friends considered her someone they could rely on," Takasugi said. "She was caring and generous, some would say generous to a fault."

      But Kouch painted a different picture of a person who made a series of choices that led to the murders.

      That included an affair Williams had with a former high school flame, John Gregory, months prior to the murders, Kouch said.

      The prosecution has often pointed to Williams' desire to be free of her husband and children as a motive for the murders.

      "She wanted John Gregory," Kouch said. "She wanted the freedom to be single, to party with her friends ... to go surfing. She chose a life of freedom over the lives of her husband and her children."

      The manner in which she killed her family was also something the jury should consider, Kouch said.

      "The defendant chose to take a samurai sword and hack her husband to death," she said.

      In the end, Takasugi also talked about choices.

      "The ultimate question for you (the jurors) is how she should die," Takasugi said. "Should you extinguish that light or let it flicker out in that cell. I will ask you to send Manling to her cell where she will remain for every night, every breath ... until she dies by the hands of God."


    9. #19
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010
      Pomona: Jurors deciding fate of Rowland Heights woman who smothered sons, killed husband with sword

      A prosecutor urged jurors today to recommend a death sentence for a Rowland Heights woman who smothered her two young sons with a pillow and killed her husband with a sword as they slept.

      One of Manling Tsang Williams’ attorneys, however, urged them to recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying it would be a “severely long sentence” for his client.

      The six-man, six-woman Pomona Superior Court panel is the second jury asked to consider what penalty the 31-year-old woman should face for the August 2007 killings of her 27-year-old husband, Neal, and sons, Ian, 3, and Devon, 7.

      The first jury convicted Williams of three counts of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait. But that panel deadlocked in November on what sentence to recommend, with eight of the 12 jurors favoring a death sentence.

      In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese told jurors that Williams waited for her family members to go to sleep and then “went in for the kill.”

      The young mother — 29 at the time — put on a pair of gloves, took a pillow, held it over her 3-year-old son’s mouth and nose until he lost consciousness, the prosecutor said. Williams then climbed the bunk bed stairs to her oldest son’s bed and put the pillow over his nose and mouth as she took “every last breath of air he has,” Okun-Wiese told jurors.

      The prosecutor alleged that Williams returned to her computer, checked out the MySpace page of the lover who had suggested that she get a divorce, went out with friends, then came back home and chose the heaviest, sharpest sword in the house to attack her sleeping husband on Aug. 8, 2007.

      “The defendant killed her own family for no reason other than her selfishness,” Okun-Wiese told jurors, adding that Williams “wanted to be free” to be with the man with whom she was infatuated in high school.

      “She is cold, callous and evil,” the prosecutor said, urging jurors to consider the lives that Williams had “stolen” and “ruined” as a result of the crimes.

      Defense attorney Thomas Althaus countered that his client will forever suffer from the consequences of what she did, and said she will be “severely punished” for the murders.

      “I’m not saying she didn’t commit the crimes,” Williams’ attorney said.

      But he disputed the prosecution’s contention that the killings were premeditated, noting his client’s statement that everything happened after a fight.

      Williams’ lawyer said his client — who had been described as a kind and caring woman — experienced learning disabilities and difficulty in school, physical abuse and suffered repeated criticism while struggling her entire lifetime to please her mother.

      He noted that she had no prior history of violent criminal activity and urged jurors not to let anger or emotion dictate their decision.

      “The only really appropriate sentence for Manling Williams is life without the possibility of parole,” he told jurors.

      The panel is likely to begin its deliberations Wednesday morning.


    10. #20
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      Oct 2010
      Jury recommends death penalty for Manling Williams

      POMONA - A jury today recommended the death sentence for a Rowland Heights woman convicted of brutally murdering her husband and two young children.

      Manling Williams hacked her husband, Neal, to death with a samurai sword and then smothered her two young children, 7-year-old Devon and 3-year-old Ian in their Rowland Heights home on Aug. 7, 2007.

      Williams' attorney, Tom Althaus, called the recommendation "horrible."

      "Look at what this family has to go through," he said. "(Manling William's) family is just devastated by this. I just don't think she deserved death. I don't think it is justified in this case."

      Los Angeles District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons disagreed.

      "Manling Williams was tried and convicted of killing her husband with a sword and smothering her two little boys to death," she said. "We believe the jury came to the appropriate conclusion."

      Williams, 31, was convicted on Nov. 4, 2010, of the murders.

      The jury that convicted her later deadlocked in favor of the death penalty at 8-4. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office then elected to retry the death penalty portion of the trial with a new jury.


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