The sentencing hearing for Brianna Williams, the woman who pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder in 2019 death of her 5-year-old daughter, began Thursday.
Action News Jax first told you about Williams in 2019 when her daughter Taylor Williams was reported missing. The child’s body was later found in Demopolis, Alabama, where Williams is from.
Here are the live updates from Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty as they happened in court:
3:33 p.m.: Johnson said he told Taylor to go inside and lock the door. He noticed Brianna’s car wasn’t in the driveway. He said this repeated several times over the course of a few weeks. He said he stopped seeing Taylor completely around the second week of May 2019. Johnson said he never reported this to police. He reported it, after learning Taylor was missing in Nov 2019.
3:32 p.m.: We’re now hearing from Carlos Johnson. He also lived next door to the mom and daughter. He said on April 17 he saw Taylor out in the street wandering around looking for her mom. He said he remembers the date because it was his mother’s birthday.
3:18 p.m.: Sweeney said when she saw the news that Taylor was missing (Nov 2019) her instant reaction was “Taylor has been missing” because she hadn’t seen her in months.
3:09 p.m.: In April of 2019, Sweeney said she started to not see Taylor. In same month, Sweeney’s roommate called, saying he saw Taylor alone in the street (this happened a couple times) and Brianna’s car was not in the driveway.
3:07 p.m.: Neighbor (Paulette Sweeney) said when she observed Taylor and Brianna, the defendant would always keep her child close “alllll the way to the apartment.” She adds Taylor seemed like a happy kid.
3:05 p.m.: We’re now on witness #10 for the prosecution. She was Brianna Williams neighbor at Paradise Island apartments in 2019. (the prosecution has 18 witnesses total).
2:54 p.m.: He testified that he was instructed by police to tell her remains had been found. In that moment Williams went in and out of consciousness.
2:53 p.m.: We just heard from retired U.S. Navy Chief Keys. He was the one who was with Williams after she was questioned by police. He was wearing a recording device from police when driving her back to base.
2:33 p.m.: Williams submitted for leave for Oct 31-Nov 5. Williams told Stratford she was going trick-or-treating with Taylor in Alabama. She told police she picked her daughter up from her mother’s home on Halloween. Police say grandmother told them she hadn’t seen Taylor since Jan.
2:28 p.m.: Witness #8: Michael Stratford in the Navy Reserves. Previously worked at NAS JAX. Williams was his subordinate. He was in contact with Williams the day Taylor was reported missing-- Williams had taken leave and she was late coming back.
2:20 p.m.: We’re now hearing from a woman in the U.S. Navy stationed at Mayport. She was close friends with Brianna Williams. She said Williams complained about Taylor, saying the 5 year-old was a “different child” when Williams came back from deployment. She adds that Williams told her Taylor was misbehaving-- breaking things and peeing the bed.
2:05 p.m.: Another crime scene detective now on the stand. He stated he found multiple, soiled children’s clothing items at the home of the defendant. He adds he also saw a lot of cleaning products: Clorox, baking soda, etc.
1:55 p.m.: “It didn’t appear that the child lived there” according to another crime scene detective.
1:46 p.m.: Defense asked if there was any testing done to determine if the feces belonged to the child. Detective said no testing was done. No blood sample taken from the bed either.
1:45 p.m.: Detective said she noticed a lot of cleaning supplies in the home. She adds the defendant’s vehicle had a faint smell of decomposition.
1:40 p.m.: Testimony resumes. Detective w/JSO crime scene unit is on the stand. She testifies that when she searched the home, she noticed dead maggots inside a bag with brand new children’s clothing. Taylor’s bed smelled like urine and had feces on it.
12:13 p.m.: Defense redirects. He confirms with detective on stand that despite Williams saying she did not want to speak to investigators anymore, she gave consent to them searching her cell phone and home. Court is taking 1 hr. recess. Will resume at 1:15 p.m.
12:08 p.m.: At this point, Williams said she no longer wants to speak to detectives.
12:07 p.m.: Detective says “they [movers] never saw your daughter” (Williams and her daughter moved 3 days before Taylor was reported missing) Then, detectives say “your mom hasn’t seen your daughter since January.” Williams said her mom was taking care of Taylor on 10/31 and prior to that.
12:05 p.m.: “We’re gonna call movers. We’re gonna call your mom. We’re gonna verify information” detective says in int. video. She says “do you know what this is gonna lead to?”
12:04 p.m.: Roughly 30 mins into interview with Williams, detectives say “what do you think happened?” Williams says she doesn’t know.
11:46 a.m.: We’re now listening to the int. between detectives and Brianna Williams. She says she last saw her daughter at midnight the night before reporting her missing. She said in the middle of the night (early AM) she heard a ‘dragging noise.’ She checked the house but not Taylor’s room
11:35 a.m.: Lead detective said when she went to the scene, she thought the child’s room “looked staged.” Said usually with children, there’s crumbs in bed or toys on the ground -- there wasn’t any of that.
11:33 a.m.: Now the lead detective for the Williams case is on the stand. She said during her interview with Brianna Williams, she had to ask her to put her cell phone down multiple times, because she was texting.
11:32 a.m.: Defense objected to Williams emotional state when officers arrived. Said officers did not know what was going through Williams’s head during this incident. He said Williams was shaking (it’s difficult to see if she is in the video played in court).
11:23 a.m.: Officer checked her car and said the trunk was clean and empty, but there was a white substance on the black mat. He said the interior of the car was messy and the home was messy, so he found it was odd that the trunk was clean and empty.
11:07 a.m.: “Tear the house apart” were the instructions given to the responding officer. He says when he went inside the home there was a small princess bed, but otherwise no children’s toys or indication that a child was living there.
11:05 a.m.: We’re now seeing body cam video from the responding officer. He makes contact with Brianna Williams dressed in her full military uniform. Williams is crying, says Taylor in PJs and back door was unlocked. Says they just moved there a few days prior.
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10:51 a.m.: Now hearing from a JSO officer who responded the day Taylor was reported missing. He said Brianna Williams was crying when he arrived, but didn’t appear emotional. He said it wasn’t easy to get information out of her.
10:42 a.m.: Right now we’re listening to the 911 call made by Brianna Williams to police, saying her daughter was missing. It’s a lengthy call. We hear Williams begin to cry and then hyperventilate. The operator is asking her to check multiple spaces inside and outside the home.
10:26 a.m.: The defense started by objecting to multiple statements in court documents. Investigators say Williams showed no remorse for killing her child, according to PSI. Her attorney said that’s not true.