Relatives defend woman accused of starving child - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Relatives defend woman accused of starving child

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It was an emotional day in court as the family of a Richmond woman, who pleaded guilty in the death of her son, waits for a judge's decision. Ashley Williams' son was severely malnourished when he died in May of 2009. Now, she's asking a judge for a different lawyer.

Many people are waiting with baited breath for this decision. Ashley Williams' supporters packed the courtroom Wednesday. Deputies needed to add chairs to the gallery. This emotionally-charged case has garnered a lot of attention.

For Ashley Williams' family, the case has gone all wrong.

"It bothers me," said her sister Altovise Williams. "It makes me very angry."

The defendant's sister said her son has the same disorder her nephew D'Sean reportedly had when he died. At the time, prosecutors say the two-year-old weighed just 14 pounds.

"When I found out she pleaded guilty I knew it was all wrong because there are other children, males that are sick in our family," Altovise explained.

They argue she shouldn't have entered the plea to involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect charges because D'Sean's death is the result of a genetic disorder. It looks like starvation and causes the child to "fail to thrive."

"I was never told to give particular therapies or GI specialists or anything so my son could have went through the same thing that her son went through," Altovise Williams added.

Tears streamed down Ashley Williams' face as she spoke with the woman she wants to be her attorney before heading back to jail Wednesday. A judge has yet to decide on a motion to let attorney Pauline Ewald represent Williams in her attempt to withdraw her guilty plea. Ewald said it was given under bad advice from another lawyer.

Since she was arrested, Williams' three other children have been in foster care. Her sister said they do not have the same health issues.   

"She wants Ashley to know, "I love her and everything is going to be ok."

Under the guilty plea, Williams faces more than forty years in prison. She was originally charged with murder and child abuse.

Prosecutors did not want to talk about the case outside of the courtroom Wednesday.

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