A story for every victim

Death penalty case: Protracted trial deepens woman's torment

Photo: Jan Williams' son and grandsons were killed by her daughter-in-law Manling Williams in 2007. A jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death sentence. A second penalty phase begins April 18. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Several months ago, Manling Williams, a 31-year-old Asian woman, was convicted of killing her husband and two young sons in their Rowland Heights home.

She told authorities that on Aug. 7, 2007, she had come home from grocery shopping about 7:30 a.m. when she discovered her family dead.

When Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrived and searched the house, they found the bodies of Neal Williams, a 27-year-old white man; Devon Williams, a 7-year-old boy; and Ian Williams, a 3-year-old boy.

Prosecutors said in court that Manling Williams stabbed her husband to death with a sword and then smothered their two sons, who were in their bunk beds in an upstairs bedroom, with a pillow.

Following Manling Williams'conviction and during the sentencing phase, prosecutors pushed for the death penalty arguing that the severity of the slayings demanded her life.

Yet a jury deadlocked and Neal Williams' family was dealt another blow. His mother, Jan Williams, asked the district attorney's office to drop the death penalty and accept life without parole.

In Monday's story, reporter Corina Knoll follows Jan Williams and chronicles the devastation she's experienced following the killings and the toll the court room hours has taken on her life.

Photo: Jan Williams' son and grandsons were killed by her daughter-in-law Manling Williams in 2007. A jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death sentence. A second penalty phase begins April 18. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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