Marian Williams trial enters penalty phase Monday

The trial of Marian Williams moves into the penalty phase after she was found guilty by a jury Friday. The jury will now hear arguments and impact statements to determine the fate of the 49-year-old woman.

Marian Williams was found guilty of the first-degree murder of three children in an arson fire. Prosecutors argued Williams set her ex-boyfriend’s home on fire with the intent of killing his entire family. Jurors agreed.

Judge Don T. Hall in the 12th Circuit Court is presiding over the case in DeSoto County.

To determine if Williams should be considered for the death penalty, the jury will have to determine if there are ‘aggravating factors,’ or factors that increase the gravity of the crime. Both the state and the defense will have a chance to present evidence for or against the death penalty.

The state is arguing that due to the suffering of the kids during the fire, and previous threats against the life of Arnold Mele and his family by Williams, that she should receive the death penalty.

The defense is arguing that Williams did not know the kids were in the home and the only premeditated part of her crime was the arson. They said Monday that they plan to bring in mental health experts and members of William’s family.

On Monday the jury heard impact statements from state’s witness Clarissa Jones, a woman who knows Williams, who claims Williams slit her throat and threatened to kill her. Williams was sentenced to three years for that attack.

They also heard from Kenya Lindsay, the mother of the three boys, who told the court how she struggles every day without her three boys in her life. She told the jury, “Now I have nothing to live for and I only have left the memories of my three sons. My husband and I have a three-bedroom home that is empty and incomplete without Marcus, KK, and Ke.”

Court proceedings ended early on Monday after the judge determined that there were some logistical challenges that needed to be addressed before they could continue.

Arguments will resume on Tuesday morning with defense witnesses.

If the jury recommends the death penalty and the judge agrees, Williams will join three other women on death row in Florida. There are 302 men on death row. If they don’t recommend the death penalty, Williams is facing the possibility of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Matthew Seaver
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