One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Twenty-one, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.
Thirty-two, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42.
Forty-three, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53.
Fifty-four, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64.
Sixty-five, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75.
Seventy- six, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96.
Manling Williams confessed to stabbing Neal Williams 97 times after a domestic dispute at their Rowland Heights apartment in August 2007, a homicide detective told a packed courtroom Monday.
The testimony came during a 90-minute preliminary hearing for Williams, who is accused of using a Japanese ninja sword to slice her husband to death.
If convicted at trial, Manling could be put to death.
She is also accused of suffocating the couple’s two young boys, Ian, 3, and Devon, 7, with their own pillows as they slept. Sheriff’s Homicide Sgt. Donald Walls’ voice quavered as he told the tale.
No one except Neal’s killer knows how long it takes to stab someone 97 times.
It takes about four or five minutes to suffocate a child with a pillow. Ten minutes or so to suffocate two.
Until Monday no one knew the true extent of the horror that permeated the Williams’ home on that hot August night, thanks to a tight-lipped DA protecting what now appears to be a slam-dunk case.
Neal’s mom, Jan Williams of Whittier, waited months for a preliminary hearing to occur. For no apparent reason, delay after delay prevented the hearing while a judge in the case heard several sealed motions.
Throughout, prosecutors never adequately prepared Jan for what she would hear Monday.
From neighbors and press accounts, Jan had a vague idea of what happened. Neal’s death certificate simply put his cause of death as “sharp force trauma.”
The boys’ deaths were the result of “suffocation.”
Nothing and no one mentioned the volume of blood splattered in the bedroom or the hallway where Neal died.
No one told Jan that Manling confessed to waiting until Neal fell asleep and became vulnerable before she slipped on a pair of rubber gloves and slashed him across the chest with the sword.
No one told Jan about the look of terror frozen in the little boys’ eyes as they lay dead in their bedroom. She had to hear it in a sterile courtroom setting just like everyone else.
When the hearing was over, she posted a simple status message on Facebook: “Jan is in shock.”
The depth of her feelings ran much deeper.
“Ninety times,” she wrote in an e-mail. “My son was stabbed more than 90 times. I just don’t know how to even absorb that. How can you stab someone 90 times? I feel like I was hit with a physical blow. The rest of it seems like a blur.”