Friday, January 22, 1999

Father denies he hit baby

Murder suspect testifies he wasn't part of beating death

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        To the outside world, prosecutors say, the first sign of trouble at Charles Williams' house was a bruise on his stepdaughter's face.

        It wasn't until much later that prosecutors say they learned the house was a place where children were whipped with belts, struck with fists and tied up in closets from curtain rods.

        In testimony Thursday at his murder trial, Mr. Williams said he isn't to blame for any of it.

        “Those are just stories,” he said. “I loved those kids with all my heart.”

        Mr. Williams' testimony in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court was his first opportunity to address the jurors who will decide whether he is guilty of beating to death his 11-month-old daughter.

        Under questioning from his attorneys, Mr. Williams said he always worked hard to overcome his hearing and learning problems so he could provide for his family.

        He denied ever striking his baby daughter, Cassie, or his two stepchildren.

        He said it was his wife, Crystal, who often went too far in punishing the children.

        On the day the baby was hospitalized in May, Mr. Williams said he gave her a bottle around 9:30 p.m. He said he told the girl “I love you” and gave her a hug.

        A short time later, he noticed she was having trouble breathing. He told police the next day that he feared he had “hugged her too hard.”

        When asked about the child's extensive internal injuries, Mr. Williams said he had tried to perform CPR.

        “Where did you learn how to do that?” asked defense attorney Robert Ranz.

        “I watched it on Baywatch,” Mr. Williams said.

        Prosecutors, however, repeatedly asked Mr. Williams to explain why his wife, one of his stepdaughters, his children's teachers and a social worker all testified about his violent temper.

        Mr. Williams denied the allegations and said he rarely even spanked the children.

        “If I was going to get angry, I wouldn't take it out on them,” he said of his children. “I'd leave and get some fresh air.”

        If convicted of aggravated murder, Mr. Williams could face a death sentence. The trial resumes today.


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