The capital murder trial of a League City man accused of beating his 6-year-old stepdaughter to death took an emotional turn Tuesday as the child’s mother testified and defense attorneys attempted to pin the killing on her.
“My child is dead and isn’t coming back,” Brithony Williams said. “It happened after I left her with someone I trust. I have no answers and I deal with it daily. It is time I get answers.”
Brithony Williams’ testimony came on Day 2 in the trial of Evan David Nolan, 28, who is accused of beating Whitney Williams, 6, to death in 2016 while he was watching the girl and Williams’ 1-year-old daughter in the family’s apartment.
Defense attorneys, meanwhile, took the opportunity to accuse Williams of severely beating her daughter and causing her death.
“You lied to the police when you had no reason to suspect Evan,” attorney Adam Banks Brown said. “It was because the night before you beat that girl and were worried those injuries had come manifest.”
A Galveston County grand jury in 2016 indicted Nolan after viewing evidence from the homicide. Whitney Williams died from severe injuries, including brain trauma, a lacerated liver and internal bleeding.
Nolan’s attorneys argued Tuesday that Nolan was never known to be violent and that it was actually an incident Aug. 16, during which Brithony Williams spanked her daughter, that led to her death.
“You decided to whip her repeatedly and, at some point, did he have to tell you to stop?” Banks asked.
Williams denied that account, saying she had only spanked the daughter three or four times.
Tuesday’s testimony focused on events between Aug. 16, 2016, and Aug. 18, 2016, when Whitney Williams died.
Nolan texted Brithony Williams Aug. 16 to tell her about her daughter misbehaving at home, records show.
Williams returned home that night and spanked Whitney Williams, Brithony Williams said.
When Williams left for work the next morning, everything was apparently fine, she said.
The couple chatted back-and-forth via text message while she was at work and he was watching the children, records show.
“There was no sense of animosity or anger in any of the text messages,” Brown said.
After a one-hour gap in conversation, Nolan sent Williams a text asking her to come home.
“He was calm on the phone,” Williams said. “He mostly just kept asking where I was at. He kept saying Whitney was fine and that it was nothing serious.”
Williams arrived home to find her daughter unconscious on a blanket and rushed her out the door before speaking with anyone else, she said.
A League City police officer driving to work the evening of Aug. 17 spotted a motorist driving recklessly and stopped the vehicle in the 1500 block of East Main Street.
Williams got out of the vehicle carrying her unconscious daughter, police said.
Emergency medical personnel took the girl to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, and later to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where she died the next day.
Brown cast Williams’ actions while speaking to detectives as further evidence that the death was her fault.
Williams initially told detectives a baby sitter had been watching her children, but she could not provide police with a phone number for the caretaker, according to the affidavits.
Williams told police the baby sitter had called her at work to tell her Whitney had suffered a seizure and hit her head, according to the affidavits.
When detectives questioned Williams about text messages with Nolan, indicating he was watching the girl, she told investigators Nolan had been watching her daughters at the couple’s League City apartment, according to the affidavits.
Officials had considered pursuing false report charges against Williams, but eventually had decided not to, she said.
League City police and U.S. Marshals arrested Nolan after a traffic stop the day after officers encountered the girl, police said.
Williams has moved to Louisiana since Nolan was arrested, but is in town to testify.
Williams learned she was pregnant with twins days after her daughter succumbed to her injuries, she said.
The trial is expected to last through the week, Chief Assistant District Attorney Adam Poole said.