Exclusive: Juror in Richmond baby starvation case talks about verdict

Posted at 1:32 AM, Jul 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-24 12:10:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--A jury member from the Ashley Williams trial was shocked Monday when the presiding judge reduced the mother's sentence.

"I'm not sure I understand why and I'm not sure why they bothered to ask us if they weren't going to do what we recommended," she said.

Even still, just seeing the headlines caused the case to resurface in her mind and take her back to the painful days of the trial. She claims they are among the most painful of her life.

Inside a deliberation room at the John Marshall Courthouse in May, six men and six women decided the fate of Ashley Williams, age 28.

"I still see him if I close my close my eyes right now i can still see his face," said the former jury member.

She said that as the jury decided their verdict, a picture of two- year-old D'Sean Williams remained visible on the table in front of them.

“D’Sean Williams died May 30, 2009 at the age of two years, one month,” wrote CBS 6 reporter Mark Holmberg in a story published following the Williams trial. “He weighed 14-and-a-half pounds. He looked like a skeleton with a thin covering of flesh.”

"It's very difficult for me to sit here and talk--my hands are shaking as we speak--and I hope I never have to do that again," she said.

CBS 6 learned what happened behind closed doors at the Williams' trial because of this juror's account. She claimed that because of the sad nature of the case the jurors were bonded despite being from very different walks of life.

"Not one single juror took this lightly," she said.

However, that doesn't mean there weren't divides among them. According to the juror Williams almost escaped a murder conviction. In order to sway a few jurors leaning toward a not guilty verdict, a promise was made to then give Williams the minimum sentence.

It was that agreement that led to a unanimous decision.

"Ultimately it came down to the mother didn't call for help on those last days when help was needed," said the juror.

But we're told there was one pivotal moment in the trial that sealed Williams' fate for several jury members. We are told it was when Williams was on the stand and was shown a picture of her emaciated son as he was found dead by first responders. She was asked if this was how her son looked when she put him to bed that night and Williams answered “yes”

"Yes, we were there to decide Ashley's fate but we were also there to make sure someone was speaking for D'Sean," said the juror.

When it was all over, the verdict and sentence decided and jurors left the courthouse for the last time, it was then that for several jury members’ sadness took hold.

"All of the women, every single one of us was sobbing and we sobbed all the way to our cars," she said.

The five year and a half sentence that the judge decided on was a punishment two years shy of the jury’s recommendation.