Manipulating Civil Court to Impose Military Court Death Penalty in Hawaii


We’ll begin with an homage to the real Hawaii 5-0 show and that iconic line, “book ‘em Danno:” Clip from classic Hawaii 5-0

The Aloha State is making news this week and it’s not because of the serenity that attracts millions of tourists a year; instead, it’s playing host to a federal death penalty trial. The facts of this case are fairly straightforward, Naeem Williams, an Army soldier, is alleged to have killed his 5-year-old daughter on a military base in 2004. The victim’s stepmother, Tarshia Williams, is also charged but she is expected to cut a deal and testify against Naeem.

Even though the facts are straightforward, there are many odd things about this case. First, this case has many odd venue issues. This case is not being tried in a military court even though the crime occurred on a military base; instead, it’s in a civilian federal court. The reason for this decision is this will enable Naeem and Tarshia to be tried together. Next, it’s unusual for the death penalty to be sought in federal court in a state which has abolished the death penalty—Hawaii abolished the death penalty in 1958. Even though this is unusual, it’s not unprecedented as 7 of 59 inmates currently on federal death row are from states that didn’t have the death penalty at the time the sentence was imposed.

Hawaii’s history with capital punishment goes back long before statehood. There were 49 executions in Hawaii dating to 1856, with the last one occurring in 1944. The final execution of Ardiano Domingo — a Filipino who was hanged for killing a woman with scissors in a Kauai pineapple field —prompted Hawaii’s territorial lawmakers to abolish the death penalty.

Click here for the ABC News Article: Federal Death Penalty Trial in Hawaii