The first-degree murder trial of a Coralville woman accused of starting the fire that killed a 14-year-old relative has been postponed until Oct. 23.
Lillie Williams’ case originally was set to go before a Johnson County jury on Tuesday. The trial was pushed so attorneys could sort out issue with witnesses, including whether Williams’ 5-year-old grandson is competent to testify during the trial.
According to court testimony, the child has told authorities he was present when his grandmother started the fatal fire at 720 11th Ave. in Coralville on Sept. 4. The blaze killed Raymone Bryant, according to investigators, and Williams’ 5-year-old grandson has told counselors and authorities that he misses Bryant and is afraid of his grandmother.
He also told authorities that several adults in his life, including his grandmother, told him not to share what he knew. A judge has yet to decide whether the child is capable of telling the truth before jurors at trial.
A final hearing to determine his competency is schedule for Aug. 30. During that hearing, the child will be interviewed by a judge in chambers outside the presence of Williams, according to court documents. Attorneys will be allowed in the room, and Williams will be allowed to listen and observe the proceedings through closed-circuit television, where members of the media also will be able to observe the hearing.
Williams, 50, was arrested after police said she intentionally set fire to the home where her cousin and her cousin’s husband lived, according to a criminal complaint. A witness, according to the original complaint, identified Williams as the person who set the fatal fire.
It’s unknown whether her grandson was the witness mentioned in the criminal complaint.
Williams has declared her innocence in open court, telling a judge that the murder charge is based on “all false information.”