Family: Child had rare medical condition; mom did not starve boy

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-13 18:28:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The family of a woman serving time behind bars for starving her child to death said that the child's mother does not deserve to be in jail.

The family of Ashley Williams told CBS 6 News' Shelby Brown the child died as the result of a medical condition.

At a packed courtroom Wednesday, Judge Spencer heard a motion to allow Williams to keep an attorney of her choice.  

Williams' original lawyer told the judge that a court appointed attorney failed to present a defense after 2-year-old Desean Williams died three years ago.

Prosecutors said the 14-pound boy was malnourished and was starved to death by his mother. Williams eventually pled guilty to felony child abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

A group of supporters, including Richmond City Council member Marty Jewell, the NAACP and members of coalition for justice showed up.

"We're not here to argue her guilt or innocence...just to say she has a right to due process," said King Salim Khalfani, executive director of the State Chapter of the NAACP.

Altovise Williams prays the judge will allow Pauline Ewald to take over her sister's case. She also hopes to hear from a medical expert that would testify that a medical condition is what killed her nephew..

"It makes me very mad," said Williams. "When she pled guilty I knew it was wrong…. because it's other sick children in our family."

A claim Williams makes about her 16 pound, 1-year-old nephew. She said the boy cannot walk and is failing to thrive. In fact, Williams said her own son has serious weight issues, like Desean, and is on three to four medications to maintain his weight.

Attorney Todd Stone said that before any of the medical defense is heard, Williams must clear some hurdles.

"It's frustrating for prosecutors to start again, if that's where it ends up," said Stone. "Prosecutors wanted this guilty plea. Now if it reverses, they start at square one."

The judge will decide on the motion and submit the decision in writing Friday.

Stay with and CBS 6 News for updates on this developing story.