The Richmond mom accused of starving to death her two-year-old son finally has her day in court. Almost four years after D'Sean Williams was said to have died from malnutrition and dehydration, his mother, Ashley, is on trial for felony murder and felony child neglect.
A good way to describe Monday's proceedings is both slow-moving and contentious, with heated moments between prosecutors and Ashley Williams' defense attorneys. Both sides are giving impassioned pleas in this tragic case.
Prosecutors called the death of two-year-old D'Sean Williams "truly tragic" "completely senseless" and "completely needless." They accuse Ashley Williams of failing to provide enough food and water for her son to survive.
The first witness taking the stand to prove the commonwealth's case was the paramedic who called D'Sean's death in the early morning hours of May 30, 2009. He described the little boy as cold with a stiff jaw and extremities, which, he says, typically mean the child has been dead for several hours.
In his testimony, he identified a picture of the two-year-old dead on a bedroom floor. The jury saw a photograph of an emaciated D'Sean, like a photo of a child from a third world country.
Defense attorneys maintain the reason for that state is D'Sean had an undiagnosed medical conditional called failure to thrive, which means he had trouble putting on and keeping on weight.
They describe Ashley Williams as a "loving, caring and giving mother" and say the jury will hear about her "absolute, unwavering commitment to her child." Lawyers say after they describe the multiple times Williams took her son to the doctor, jurors "will collectively be outraged she was charged with murder."
Defense Attorney Joe Morrissey also took issue with another prosecution witness who intermittently took care of D'Sean when he was born. Tammy Branch testified the child had no health problems while staying with her, but when cross examined, also stated D'Sean looked just as good after a month of being in Williams' custody.
Monday, the prosecution only got through a few witnesses because of the many objections and late start. The judge told both sides if they continue at this pace, they'll never finish up the case.
If convicted of both charges, Williams faces a maximum fifty year prison sentence.
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