Twins testify of abuse by adopted mother

Date: 2007-06-02

Detroit News, The (MI)

Edward L. Cardenas

MOUNT CLEMENS -- Barely able to see over the witness stand, twin 8-year-old sisters made a Macomb County jury cry Friday as they described the abuse they suffered at the hands of the adopted mother accused of torturing them.

In sundresses and ponytails, the twin girls testified separately that 30-year-old Tamika Williams beat them with cable wire, shoes and exercise equipment; bathed them in bleach water; burned them with cigarettes; and dunked them in a toilet filled with urine.

When Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Andary pulled a spring-loaded exercise tool out of an evidence bag, one of the girls quickly covered her face and began to sob. Some jurors did, too.

The girl said the spring-loaded exercise tool was used by Williams to hit her on the legs, back and behind.

"(Williams) said if I tell anyone, she was going to kill me," she said.

The girl also demonstrated, holding her arms over her head, how she was hung by her hands with a rope from a door and beaten with a baseball bat. She also described being hit with a toilet seat and dunked into a toilet.

After Andary finished her questions about abuse, she asked the girl what she had hoped for in an adoptive mother. The girl responded: "A mom that takes care of me and loves me."

Williams, whose trial began Thursday, is accused of abusing the girls since she adopted them in 2005 from a foster care home in Southfield. The children are alleged to have suffered bruises, welts and burns. They are now in foster care.

Williams is charged with two counts of torture and two counts of child abuse. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.

Defense attorney Ronald Goldstein asked questions of the first girl in an attempt to show that the girls had injuries before they were adopted by Williams.

When he questioned the first girl about her treatment from her previous foster mother, the girl said she was hit once with a belt. When he asked if the girls fought or injured each other, she said no.

When the second of two girls took the stand Friday, she was fearful and had to be coaxed into the courtroom to sit at the witness stand. When she finally agreed to testify, the courtroom was cleared by Judge Mary Chrzanowski of everyone except for the jury; attorneys; the officer in charge of the case; deputies; Williams; and foster care personnel. Others watched on closed-circuit TV.

The second girl also told how she was hit with the "exercise thing" and described why Williams did what she did.

"Cause she didn't like us," said the girl, who was wearing a blue dress and had her hair pulled back with a pink hair tie.

The girls avoided looking at Williams as they testified. Williams listened attentively, sometimes shaking her head, other times covering her face during descriptions of abuse. She smiled when the girls spelled their names and showed off their knowledge of multiplication tables during initial questioning by prosecutors.

The girls were removed from the home Nov. 16 after teachers at Warrendale Elementary School reported an injury to one of the girls.

The trial is expected to resume on Tuesday.

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