At least two jurors were visibly weeping as they returned Friday afternoon with a guilty verdict for a Hurst father accused of beating his 3-year-old daughter to death, a prosecutor said.
The verdict, however, was not for capital murder of a person under 10, as prosecutors sought.
The jury convicted Robert Williams, 28, of the lesser charge of murder.
Williams’ attorneys then asked visiting state District Judge Jerry Woodlock, not the jury, to sentence Williams. Woodlock gave him 55 years in prison.
Had Williams been convicted of capital murder, he would have been sentenced automatically to life without parole. But the sentence for murder includes the possibility of parole.
“I’m glad they found him not guilty of capital murder,” Stickels said. “This means he’ll be eligible for parole in the future.”
It’s not unusual for prosecutors to include lesser offenses in charges against defendants, giving jurors options.
The jury saw him for the monster he is and held him responsible for the merciless beating of his own child prosecutor Dale Smith.
A Tarrant County prosecutor said he was also pleased with the verdict.
“The jury saw him for the monster he is and held him responsible for the merciless beating of his own child,” prosecutor Dale Smith said.
“We are pleased that the judge saw fit to sentence him to 55 years for ending her life.”
Anastasia Williams died March 22, 2013, from a lacerated liver, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office ruled. Melinda Westmoreland and Smith, who presented the state’s case, gave the jury photographs that showed the toddler’s body covered with bruises.
Westmoreland reminded jurors of testimony from witnesses who said that Anastasia had not been bathed or wiped after she used a potty in her bedroom for at least a week.
It was a hard little life for just three years. Melinda Westmoreland, Tarrant County prosecutor.
Danyelle LaRue, the woman whom Anastasia called Mama, testified during the trial this week that the water had been off in their apartment for weeks and that they purchased bottled water to cook and to bathe. LaRue testified that they were moving in April and had decided it would cost too much to have the water turned back on.
LaRue also testified that she and Williams traveled to WinStar World Casino just before Anastasia’s death to try to win money for the move.
LaRue, the only one of three adults living in the apartment who had a job, testified that Anastasia’s biological mother lived in another state, and Williams and Anastasia had lived with her since November 2012.
Williams’ defense team presented LaRue’s son, Fred LaRue, as a suspect in Anastasia’s murder. LaRue, who at one time used “Satanic Slayer” as a YouTube handle, disappeared for four days after Anastasia’s death, according to witness testimony.
It was a murder conspiracy against me and Anastasia. Fred LaRue, early suspect in Anastasia’s murder
Fred LaRue said he was afraid of Williams because the defendant once fired a round into the apartment ceiling.
Another member of Williams’ defense team, Bethel T. Zahaie, had Fred LaRue recite lyrics from a song he called Greyhound to jurors which said, “Lucifer has cursed me to bring you all some wisdom. We live in these abnormal souls in the federal system.”
Fred LaRue testified on Wednesday that he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Anastasia and knew she was dead when he left the apartment to pawn his cellphone.
Danyelle LaRue went to work at 7 a.m. that day. Williams picked her up at lunchtime, and they came back to the apartment briefly. LaRue said she looked in on Anastasia briefly and then returned for work.
After she got off from work and returned home, LaRue said, police and other first responders had surrounded her apartment.
“We both cried all that night,” LaRue said. Williams “was distraught.”