JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mother who faces multiple charges related to the abuse of her 5-year-old daughter, who was later found dead, appeared in court Tuesday for the first time in more than a year.
Brianna Williams, 29, is charged with felony aggravated child abuse, child neglect, evidence tampering and giving false information to law enforcement in connection with the disappearance of her daughter, Taylor. She has pleaded not guilty to all of those charges.
The 5-year-old girl’s remains were found Nov. 12, 2019, in a wooded area of Marengo County in rural Alabama, six days after her mother, a former Navy Petty Officer First Class at NAS Jacksonville, reported her missing to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
In court Tuesday, Williams’ public defender said the defense is still gathering depositions, some of which it plans to collect during a visit to Alabama in December. Prosecutors are also awaiting a deposition from an expert who’s helping with the Surfside collapse investigation.
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Court documents filed by the State Attorney’s Office accuse Williams of torturing, maliciously punishing or caging her daughter sometime between the last time the girl was seen alive in April 2019 and Nov. 6, 2019, when the girl was reported missing.
Evidence released in the case as part of discovery suggests investigators found possible bloodstains in six places in the family’s apartment, including the interior of a closet. Investigators said they found soiled children’s clothes, fecal matter and soup cans with small openings.
Also inside the apartment, investigators said they found the scent of decay, similar to the scent they said was noticeable in the trunk of Williams’ Honda Accord. Inside the vehicle, court documents say, investigators also found maggots, fecal matter and soiled clothes.
Williams faces the tampering charge because investigators suspect the girl’s body was dumped in Alabama before Williams reported her missing. Records show Williams posted a Craigslist ad seeking help moving out of her apartment hours after she returned from Alabama.
According to court records, a search of Williams’ phone determined she made three trips to and from Linden, Alabama, on Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 1 of 2019. She returned to Jacksonville shortly before 5:30 a.m. Nov. 3, six hours before posting the Craigslist ad online.
While awaiting trial, Williams remains in custody at the Duval County jail in lieu of $1.1 million bond.