Dad 'sorry' in police interview after toddler Kierra's death, but stopped short of blaming mom
WARNING: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing
Daniel Williams, the father on trial for manslaughter in connection to his toddler's death, told police despite concerns about the girl's health he did not take her out in public or to hospital in the weeks prior to her death because he was scared his children would be apprehended by Child and Family Services again.
"I blame myself for not taking her to hospital," Williams said in a 2015 video recording played in court Thursday. "We just got the kids back … I was scared for someone to say something and I'd lose my other two babies."
Kierra Elektra Starr Williams was born on Oct. 8, 2012 and taken into foster care immediately after birth. She returned to live with her biological parents on Peguis First Nation eight months later until her death in July 2014. She was rushed to hospital unconscious and died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen — an injury, court heard, inflicted by her mother.
In a 2015 video interview with police played in court Thursday, an RCMP investigator asks Williams repeatedly if he ever harmed the child, ever witnessed his partner Vanessa hurt the toddler or if he ever considered taking his daughter to the doctor because of her injuries.
Initially, Williams said he didn't know about the injuries and suggested he wasn't around to see them.
"I don't believe you're telling the full truth," the officer tells Williams in the video, adding he can see the guilt and remorse on his face.
"I never took a hand to her or nothing," Williams told the officer.
The officer pressed Williams about why his daughter's teeth were missing.
"I never seen any of it took place," Williams said ."It happened when the brother threw a toy or something."
The officer then tells Williams that an expert who examined the teeth said that was not possible. The dentist testified last week Kierra was missing five teeth due to "traumatic injury."
"I asked Vanessa what happened, she said her older brother threw a toy at her," Williams responded, adding his partner bandaged her cut lip and said it would heal.
The officer continued to press Williams about the months of abuse his daughter endured, adding she would have been deformed, in pain and crying.
'You must have known she was in pain?'
"You must have known she was in pain?" the officer tells Williams. "When did you notice she didn't want to be picked up?"
"May be a week or two before she passed," he replies. "I tried to pick her up and she pushed me away with her hands."
The officer told him that made sense because Kierra had sustained multiple rib fractures a week or two before her death, according to experts.
Williams told the officer he didn't know his daughter had any broken bones.
"You must have noticed her arm was hanging off her body funny," the officer tells Williams, referring to a left arm fracture later identified by doctors.
"One time she was crawling funny," Williams responds, adding he figured Vanessa must have "grabbed her too hard."
Over the course of a few hours, Williams admits he had witnessed, on a few occasions, his partner be "rough" with the toddler.
'I'm sorry for what happened': Williams
Williams told police he had witnessed Vanessa carry the toddler by the wrist. He said he once caught her lift Kierra's feet in the air while she was changing her, causing the toddler to fall back and hit her head on the floor.
"A few times I heard bangs on the floor," Williams told the officer.
The officer asked Williams if he ever told his partner not to hurt the child.
"I just told her to 'watch what you're doing,'" he said. "'Watch how you're handling her, you might hurt her.'"
Williams was not home the day Kierra died and is not accused of harming the child, however the Crown is arguing his failure to provide for and protect his daughter in the months prior, contributed to her death.
Williams remained calm and quiet through the police interview and didn't appear angry at Vanessa despite the investigator's repeated questions over whether he blamed her for the toddler's death.
"I'm angry [Kierra] got all those injuries on her," Williams said. "I don't know how they happened."
In closing, the officer asked if Williams had any more to say about the matter.
"I'm sorry for what happened," he said.
"Who are you most sorry to?" the officer asked.
"My baby," Williams said.
The trial is being presided over by Justice Sadie Bond. The verdict will be delivered by a jury of 12, nine men and three women.
Closing arguments in the trial will begin Monday.