A Georgia mother of three accused of killing two of her children “by placing them in an oven and turning it on” waived her first court appearance on Friday morning, local media in Atlanta reported.
Lamora Williams stands accused of myriad crimes over the October 2017 deaths of her sons, 1-year-old Ja’Karter Penn and 2-year-old Ke’Yaunte Penn – who police believe were killed roughly an hour apart.
On the night in question, the defendant called 911 and expressed fear that her sons were dead – and that she would go to jail.
In February 2018, Williams was indicted on four counts of felony murder, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of concealing the death of another, and one count of making a false statement.
She has also been charged with two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree, one count of cruelty to children in the second degree, one additional count of aggravated assault, one count of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, and one count of battery resulting in substantial physical harm, Fulton County Jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Law enforcement said that both toddlers “received burn marks on their bodies at some point, possibly from the stove,” People Magazine reported.
“When I came in, the stove was laying on my son, on my youngest son’s head, and my other son was laid out on the floor with his brains laid out on the floor,” Williams reportedly told the 911 dispatcher, according to Atlanta-based Fox affiliate WAGA. “I don’t know what to do. I just came home from work.”
The defendant told police that she left all three of her children with a caregiver from noon until 11:30 p.m. and returned home to find that two had died while the caregiver was gone, WAGA reports.
“Can you please help me?” she reportedly asked the dispatcher. “Like. Can you please tell me, like, I don’t want to get locked up because this is not my fault? I had just came home from work.”
In an arrest warrant, the Atlanta Police Department alleges that, sometime between midnight on Oct. 12, 2017, and 11 p.m. the next day, Williams “knowingly and intentionally” killed the two toddlers “by placing them in an oven and turning it on.”
Her third child, 3-year-old Jameel Penn Jr., was uninjured.
According to autopsy reports obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the boys’ heads were stuck in a tipped-over oven. The medical examiner disagreed with police claims that the children had been burned.
“These thermal changes appear to be entirely from dry heat and changes from prolonged exposure to heat,” the medical examiner reportedly wrote in both autopsies. “It would require an extensive amount of time to get to this degree.”
The boys’ father also called 911 – at roughly the same time, Williams was hesitant to give the dispatcher her address on Howell Place in the Oakland City West End neighborhood.
“I just received a call from my child’s mother that my … two of my … two dead babies; my sons are dead in an apartment,” Jameel Penn told the dispatcher. “She video called me and I seen it. I really think they are dead.”
The distraught father described the video call in comments to local ABC affiliate WSB-TV.
“It was like a real horror movie,” he said. “It was Friday the 13th.”
Police told the TV station that the eldest boy, who survived, watched his mother kill his two younger brothers.
The case has been delayed due to pandemic concerns and for mental health evaluations and related proceedings.
Williams was in the courtroom on Friday morning but did not appear in front of the judge for a scheduled final plea hearing, according to WAGA and local NBC affiliate WXIA.
Instead, lawyers for the state and defense reportedly agreed on a special setting for a trial date that a Fulton County Superior Court judge will announce in the future.