We, the comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, will remember Neal Williams and his two sons.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/article/ZZ/20120119/NEWS/120118797
Manling Williams sentenced to death for murder of husband, sons in Rowland Heights
By Brian Day, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/19/12, 12:01 AM PST |
POMONA - A judge sentenced Manling Tsang Williams to death Thursday for smothering her two young children with a pillow and slashing her husband to death with a sword in the family's Rowland Heights home in 2007.
The 32-year-old woman sobbed and shook as Pomona Superior Court Judge Robert Martinez handed down the sentence for the Aug. 7, 2007 murders of her husband, Neal Williams, 27, and their sons Devon, 7, and Ian, 3, at the family's condominium in the 18200 block of Camino Bello.
A jury convicted Manling Williams of three counts of first-degree murder in 2010, along with the special allegations of using weapons and lying in wait. After one jury was unable to agree on whether to sentence her to death or life imprisonment, a second penalty phase jury recommended last year that she be put to death.
Judge Martinez followed that recommendation.
"It is the order of this court that you should suffer the penalty of death," he told Williams.
Williams, who was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and glasses and had her hands shackled at the waist during the proceeding, kept her eyes fixed on the table in front of her throughout.
Jan Williams of Whittier, mother of Neal Williams and grandmother to Devon and Ian Williams, said she was glad to see the trial, now in its fourth year, draw to a close at last.
"I'm relieved that this chapter is over," she said. "I couldn't take another trial."
She added, "This has had a terrible impact, not just on me and my family, on the Tsang family, but everyone involved."
The judge reflected on the crime at the sentencing hearing.
"The evidence is compelling that the defendant, for selfish reasons, murdered her own two children," Martinez said.
Her motivation, Martinez said, was a "narcissistic, selfish and adolescent" desire to start a new life with another man, free from the hindrances of family life.
In the months before the murders, Manling Williams had reconnected through the Internet with an old friend and began a relationship with him.
The judge pointed out that Manling Williams had numerous family members who would have taken in the children, should she have decided to abandon them.
After smothering Devon and Ian in their bunk bed, "The defendant savagely, brutally and viciously attacked her husband with a katana sword," Martinez said.
Neal Williams was stabbed and slashed more than 97 times in the attack, investigators said.
"In the final moments of life, Neal begged the defendant for help," the judge said.
The case was prosecuted by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys Stacy Okun-Wiese and Pak Kouch.
Defense attorneys Tom Althaus and Haydeh Takasugi argued for their client's life to be spared.
Althaus told the court that the killings were not calculated executions, but a "sudden mistake."
"There's no basis for the prosecution's contention that these murders were planned," Althaus said, adding that Manling Williams was in a state of "extreme mental and emotional disturbance" when she killed her husband and sons.
Mitigating factors also included a difficult upbringing and no previous history of violence, he said.
Althaus acknowledged that his client had had an extra-marital affair, but disputed the prosecution's assertion that the affair formed a motive for the crime.
"There's no good explanation why it happened," Althaus said.
Prior to the killings, Manling Williams was "a kind, generous, troubled woman who loved her husband and children," he said.
Manling Williams' sister, Shun Ling Tsang, also urged the judge to spare her sister's life and sentence her instead to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Both families involved in this case have asked the prosecution not to pursue a second penalty phase," Tsang said.
Following the announcement that the first jury had hung in the penalty phase of the trial, both Williams and Tsang family members said they would rather see the prosecution accept a defense plea deal for a life sentence without the possibility of parole that included waiving rights to future appeals.
The prosecution elected to re-try the penalty phase, resulting in a jury recommendation of the death penalty in August of last year.
The ongoing court proceedings entailed in a death penalty case are only serving to cause more pain for family members already devastated by tragedy, Tsang said, adding that she believed the prosecution's pursuit of the death penalty was "ego-driven" and "politically motivated."
"Today will not bring about closure or healing," Tsang said.
Jan Williams said she had mixed feelings about the sentence.
"I have some reservations, because it can be hard on the families. It can take decades to resolve," she said.
She said she hoped the appeals process, which begins automatically when a convict is sentenced to death in California, will not require her to continue attending court hearings regularly.
The judge said he himself had concerns over the way the death penalty is administered in California.
"This penalty is precariously close to becoming a hypothetical," Martinez said.
The judge expressed sympathy to both the Williams and Tsang families and spoke of his own concerns of the inefficient way in which the death penalty is carried out in California, but ruled that the death penalty was appropriate, considering the law and the facts of the case.
Out of more than 700 California death row inmates, fewer than two dozen of them are women, and none has been among the 13 prisoners executed since the death penalty was restored in 1976.
"Ms. Williams, I will probably never see you again," the judge added. "I will be long gone when this case and judgement is finalized."
Each of the three killings, Martinez said, were "deliberate, premeditated and committed by lying in wait."
Martinez said that the evidence showed that Manling Williams had planned the killings two months in advance, and immediately began trying to conceal her guilt afterward.
She wore latex gloves as she attacked her husband, he said.
Testimony indicated it takes five to 10 minutes for a person to die by suffocation, meaning that Manling Williams had at least five minutes to contemplate her actions while killing one of her children before killing her other son in the same manner, Martinez said.
"She clearly had time to reflect on what she was doing," he said.
Following the killings, the judge said, Manling Williams typed up a note indicating that Neal Williams had killed the children and himself, she disposed of bloody clothing and returned home before screaming to neighbors that someone had killed her family.
While being interviewed by detectives after the discovery of the bodies, "For hours, she feigned grief, sadness and bewilderment," Martinez said.
It was only after being confronted by investigators with a bloody cigarette box that was found in her car that Manling Williams broke down and admitted the murders, Martinez said.
"It is not for me to forgive, because the ones in the position to forgive are not with us," Martinez told Manling Williams. "I hope your families find peace."
After years of hearings in which the judge remained intentionally stoic, "It was rather chilling to have the judge pronounce his opinion so frankly," Jan Williams said.