Maureen remembers Hana Alemu “Williams” and gives us a small update in Remembering Hana: May 12, 2011.
Markiece Palmer has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the beating death of Roderick “RJ” Arrington. This was another case of parents abusing their child in the name of religion. The part I found intersting about this case was that the judge condemned him for his attempt to break the child’s will. Here is the quote from the story in The Las Vegas Review Journal. (Warning, upsetting story; not for the faint of heart)
“You used your faith as a basis to justify that,” District Judge David Barker said at Palmer’s sentencing hearing. “It sounds to me like you were trying to break him, this little boy, to break his spirit, to break his will.”
ETA: There was some question about the report to CPS on my Facebook wall, which led me to share this (very disturbing) news story.
Today, Wednesday, Sept 4, 2013 the Prosecutor and Defense for Larry Williams gave their closing arguments. As always, anything to do with this trial has a serious *trigger warning* and the closing arguments are no exception. In fact, I can’t stress enough how disturbing this whole thing is. I am having a hard time figuring out how to summarize without triggers. All I can say is that the jury was told how the charges work and given instructions on their options of what they can determine. By factoring in different degrees of the charges, they have over a dozen options. The closing arguments are a summary of what was shown and what each attorney wants the jury to decide. One of the Prosecutor’s remarks was that they wanted to kill Hana’s spirit and her pride. Very, very true.
Here is an article about the Prosecutor’s closing arguments in the Skagit Valley Herald.
And here is a more in depth article in the Skagit Valley Herald which covers the whole day.
Here is the story on Komo News.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is Maurine’s report on the instructions to the jury and closing remarks by the Prosecutor. Here is a quote from it:
Mr. Weyrich discussed the various experts who have commented on Hana’s age, noting that most put her at 15 years old, via teeth and bone analysis. (The jury needs to believe she was under 16 for the more serious charge of homicide by abuse to stand.)
And here is Maurine’s report on the closing arguments from the defense team of Larry Williams. I will summarize it with this one quote:
Larry just didn’t know all that was going on, Ms. Forde said several times. “The evidence is overwhelming,” she said, that “Carri Williams designed, planned, and implemented” all that happened in their home.
And here is a quote which I find very interesting:
Why did this happen? Because Larry and Carri were unprepared, said Ms. Forde. They were both naive. They thought Hana and Immanuel would respond to the same disciplinary tactics that their other children had, and they didn’t foresee the mental health problems of older, internationally adopted children.
This ties in with what I suspected from the moment I found out that they were following Pearl’s teachings. My only quibble is that the adopted children did not have mental health problems. Quite the contrary. It was the biological children who were raised to accept the abuse and had been mentally broken down with Stockholm Syndrome. The adopted children were sane enough to recognize abuse and resist it.
Thursday, August 22, 2013 was devoted to trying to figure out Hana’s age. If the jury believes her to be 16, they cannot charge Larry and Carri Williams with Homocide by Abuse, a charge which only applies to children under the age of 16. Earlier the Prosecution called a Forensic Dentist who could not determine Hana’s age at the time of death and today the Defense called another Forensic Dentist who cannot sure of Hana’s age at the time of death. However the first dentist said that she was probably at least 15 but could be 13-18 while this one says that he believes that she was 16 years and 3 months old.
Hana’s cousin was flown in from Ethiopia to testify that she was 13. But instead of catching his flight back to Ethiopia, he disappeared which casts doubt as to the veracity of his testimony.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald.
Here is the story from KiroTV.
And here is some very important insight from Maureen. Apparently, African children’s teeth develop earlier than Western children’s teeth.
According to Gina Cole, in the afternoon they had some witnesses discussing Immanuel’s scars. A doctor said that he saw scars and the detective who interviews him did not.
Tomorrow morning the Prosecution has more witnesses scheduled and then Prosecution will rest and the Defense portion of the trial will commence.
Wed, August 21,2013 saw Immanuel’s foster mother on the stand. KiroTV has that story (not for the sensitive.) Interestingly, Defense brought up that Imanuel had been abusive towards the foster mother’s daughter. I guess they are trying to prove that he is just a bad child, but what they really proved is that he was abused. (How that works is graphically illustrated by this powerful and triggering Ad Campaign from Mexico. )
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald which discusses foster mother’s testimony as well as the issues which were brought up in regards to Immanuel’s first interviews after Hana’s Death. The defense asserts that interviews planted ideas in the “highly suggestible” boy’s head. She seems to forget that the testimony of the biological children backed up pretty much everything that Immanuel said.
Here is a large, comprehensive story in the British Newspaper, The Daily Mail.
Monday, August 19, 2013, was the last day of Immanuel William’s testimony. He did such a great job in a very difficult situation and those of us watching are very proud of him. The defense attorneys clarified with him that he sometimes had warm showers inside and did not take ALL his meals outside. Wow, as if that really mitigated their treatment of him. You can read the disturbing story in the Skagit Valley Herald. After Immanuel left the stand, the 16 year old biological son returned. There are some issues with his testimony being inconsistent with his statement given right after Hana’s death. He said that he did not want to talk to the social workers nor did he want to testify but that he told the truth both times. Next on the stand were a few minor witnesses as well as some CPS investigators and the sheriff’s deputy who had been at the home the night Hana died. One shocking revelation is that the 16 year old told the sheriff’s deputy that Hana was possessed by a demon. One has to wonder where he could possibly have gotten such an idea.
The Seattle Times has an article about the trial. This article discusses the case as well as giving more information about adoptions in general and Ethiopian adoptions specifically. In this article I found out that the defense says that Larry and Carri “regret certain parenting decisions.” I had not heard that. I wonder exactly which ones they regret since they still consider themselves not guilty. As this article outlines the entire case and trial so far, it is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Here is a brief story about Monday’s testimony from KiroTV. It focuses on how both Immanuel and the 16 year old biological son were asked if they had been telling the truth.
Chandra, who was at the courthouse last week, has posted Sorrow, Tears & Questions: The trial of Hana Williams’ adoptive parents.
The 2 eldest Williams boys will not face charges and will therefore be able to testify, according to an article in today’s Skagit Valley Herald.
In another article, the Skagit Valley Herald reports that Immanuel testified today that Carri and the biological children seemed to be laughing at Hana as she stumbled around outside. This piece of information certainly adds insult to injury. In this article we also learn that one of the defense lawyers was having some issues with the word choices being made by Immanuel’s translators and has subpoenaed one of them along with the victim’s advocate to testify some time in the future.
More about Immanuel’s testimony from KiroTV. I am shocked and horrified at how the defense attorneys are treating that poor child!
I also know from Gina Cole’s tweets that the family doctor testified today that he saw nothing amiss. He also did not see the adopted children after July 2010.
Edited to add: Here is a new article from the Skagit Valley Herald with more information about today (Thurs, Aug 8, 2013.)
Rally Ethics For Orphans & at-Risk Minors (REFORM) has been keeping track of every detail of this tragic case and has it all neatly laid out in chronological order in 2 parts:
Maureen has a poignant post about Hana’s hair.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on the court session of Aug 7, 2013. It is pretty much more of the same. The only new info seems to be that Carri would play the audio Bible for Hana while she was locked in the closet in an effort to change her thinking. I don’t even know how to respond to that. Using the Word of God as part of a torture cannot be a good thing.
This article says that Hana’s biological cousin was set to testify this afternoon. A tweet from Gina Cole told us that his interpreter was MIA and his testimony had to be postponed until Thursday, Aug 8.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Maureen takes a close look at the Williams Adoption Case in Case Study, Part 1: The Williamses’ Adoption Agency
I would like to make note that I added a very interesting (while disturbing) article to yesterdays post in case you missed it. The thing which I found so interesting was that while Immanuel was being questioned, the defense lawyers were asking him leading questions and when he would deny something, they would act as if he had not denied it. I sure hope that the jury made note of that.
The Skagit Valley Herald report for the morning of Tues Aug 6, is not for the faint of heart. One of the biological daughters describes exactly what happened on the night that Hana died and I believe that her testimony is going to turn out to be very instrumental in proving that Carri guilty of homicide by abuse.
Here is the story (with video) from KiroTV. This story tells us that the daughter testifying is Sarah. It also tells us that the sons who were planning to take the 5th amendment have been given immunity and will testify which kind of contradicts the article in the Skagit Valley Herald which only says that they might be offered immunity.
Immanuel returned to testify this afternoon but the only information I have found about that is these 2 tweets from Gina Cole.
Adopted Williams son back on the stand now. He says he only got to participate in one Christmas in three years at the home. #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 6, 2013
Lots of squabbling by attorneys over terminology used by sign language interpreters, especially “spanking” vs. “beating.” #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 6, 2013
Edited to add: A new article by the Skagit Valley Herald has been posted which has more info. Note that this article is Subscriber Content and will count as one of the 5 free articles we are allowed each month. I have read many lately which did not, and have not quite figured out the whys and wherefores of that.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on Friday’s Court Session in the Williams’ Case. Please be aware that this is very hard to read and steel yourself before reading. If you are sensitive to abuse triggers, you might want to forgo this link as well as the rest of the links in this blog post.
Here is a report and video from Kiro 7 TV.
John Hutson is a retired Attorney for the Navy and Marines who has spent 12 years studying torture and has testified before congress on the subject numerous times. He was the only witness on the morning of Friday Aug 2, 2013. Larry Williams’ lawyers questioned his qualifications since his expertise was in military and international situations, but the judge allowed his testimony providing he did not try to give a legal definition of torture. He submitted a 3 page report based on hundreds of pages of information provided to him beforehand, admitting that he did not read every word. His testimony in a nutshell was that the 2 children were unquestionably tortured. It was not a close call, there were no doubts in his mind and there were no two ways about it.
The afternoon saw the testimony of various people who knew the Williams family. They testified about things like how Carri disciplined her children (both what they saw and what she told them,) the plastic tubing which she used as a “spanking rod,” how Larry would prevent Immanuel from signing with a deaf man at church and how Hana got thinner and changed her behavior over the 3 years.
Then Detective Dan Luvera of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office testified about how he collected the evidence and took photos after Hana died. He showed them everything and discussed the autopsy, which he watched.
There is talk about some of the Williams’ biological children testifying on Monday.
Here is Maureen’s Report for Aug 2, 2013. She gives a lot of details of Mr. Hutson’s testimony about what constitutes torture and motivations for torture. I must share this important quote from Maureen’s report:
Mr. Hutson: That said, it doesn’t matter what the motivation is for torture. There may be an excuse, but there is no justification. To me, this is the heart of the entire day, if not the entire case.
Here is Maureen’s report from Tuesday, July 30, 2013. I will give a brief summary below for the faint of heart and/or the short of time.
Dr. Daniel Selove testified about the autopsy and explained how he arrived at the conclusion that Hana died of hypothermia and that malnutrition and H. Pylori contributed to her death. She showed evidence of being switched before her death, but that did not contribute to her death. The defense attorneys asked if it was possible that Hana had bulimia/anorexia and were told that there was no sign of that. They then went on to discuss how bulimia/anorexia can be practiced secretly. Maureen and I both consider this idea outrageous considering the lack of privacy they were given in that house per Immanuel’s testimony.
Gay Knutson, from Adoption Advocates International (who handled Hana’s case) testified about the adoption documents and how adoptions are handled. Every adoptive family is required to submit a post adoptive report every year until the child turns 18. The Williams had not submitted one since 2009. Families are encouraged to call if they need help and there was no record of the Williams ever calling.
Then Yohannes Kidane, an instructional assistant with Seattle Public schools, (who is fluent in English, Amharic, and Tigrinya) testified as to the veracity of the translated documents and explained the Ethiopian calendar. Maureen noted that the Defense was asking him about his early education while they did not question any of the other witnesses about their education. Mr. Kidane is expected to return today.
Here is the article from the Skagit Valley Herald.
Maureen starts her report today with a warning for prospective witnesses and all jurors to abstain from reading her blog. I must agree with her and include this blog in that restriction. There is a LOT here which is off limits for witnesses and jurors, and it is best to err on the side of caution.
She then went on to discuss the courts reaction to her blog which must have given her quite the adrenaline rush. I can only imagine. Then the motions of the morning and on to the opening statements.
I will now make a disclaimer that the sensitive should probably not read the opening statements. In fact, the entire case is very upsetting. This case is a very upsetting and disturbing case and not for the faint of heart. For that reason, I will attempt to keep you up to date without giving you the gory details.
The Prosecution gave opening statements in which they outlined the deplorable treatment of Hana and Immanuel. They started out treating them fine but when their behavior did not meet the Williams’ standards, they escalated their treatment from bad to worse. Their punishments were cruel and abusive by pretty much anyone’s definition.
Carri’s Defense Lawyer made opening statements in which he explained how Carrie had tried to get Hana back into the house and warmed up but was unable to. While admitting that her discipline was excessive, he asked if it was “substantial bodily harm.” I’m not positive, but I believe that means that he was questioning if it was the discipline which caused her death. As I understand it, that is the real question. He then went on to respond to many of the prosecution’s points.
Larry’s Defense Lawyer described Larry’s role in the family and how the family worked. They had a large family and a lot of rules. They were starting to doubt the effectiveness of spanking as it did not seem to be working during the last year as the two adopted children had become very oppositional. She went on to discuss the issues of knowing Hana’s exact age and blamed Hana’s weight loss on medical issues beyond the Williams’ control.
A large part of Larry’s defense seems to be that he was not around that much and that Carrie was in charge of most of the running of the house while he was working to provide for the family. He was not even home the night that Hana was dying. Oh, and he gave them ice cream once. That was apparently a very important point since she reminded them of that again at the end as she urged them to find him not guilty.
Now, here are some news stories about the trial today. Again, these links are not for the faint of heart.
The Seattle Times reported on the trial of Larry and Carri Williams which begins today with jury selection. I will be posting updates as once a day, editing the daily post as I add new information to each day.
Update: Komo News reports that jury selection has begun and gives a recap of events up to now.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on the Pre-Trial Hearing for the Hana Alemu “Williams” case.
This article has some very interesting information. It appears that the Defense had made quite a few motions, all of which were denied by the judge. It also turns out that there is now a biological relative available to testify to Hana’s true birth date. The trial is scheduled to proceed on Monday, July 22, 2013.
According to an article in the Skagit Valley Herald, prosecutors in the Williams court case are seeking Hana Alemu’s uncle to testify to verify her age. Her body was exhumed for that purpose, but the examination proved to be inconclusive. The reason they need her age is that the charge they are trying to prove is only valid for children under 16 years of age.
I should mention that in the Remembrance of Hanna Williams group on Facebook there is a scan of Hana’s Baptismal Certificate as well as a higher quality version a member fixed. I should also mention that Hana was born on March 8, 1997 (1/8/1989 according to the Ethiopian Calendar which is different from ours.) She died on May 12, 2011.
Misty Horner passed away in 2007 from an infection she sustained in an unassisted homebirth. Her husband and the cult they followed did not allow her to seek medical intervention during the 31 days it took for her to die. Her parents filed a wrongful death suit against her husband, Caleb Horner, his brother, John Horner and their cult which teaches extreme submission. You can read about the verdict in the El Dorado Springs Sun. This story is also covered by Fox TV. This is the first time I have heard of this story which was finally brought to my attention because the Sun article mentions Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, “Created To Be His Helpmeet.”
Old excerpts from this story can be found here.
In January of 2012 Caleb filed a wrongful termination suit against the city of Lee’s Summit which let him go after the death for which no criminal charges were filed. I cannot seem to find any news stories with an update about this suit.
Update: Feb 15, 2013 Misty Horner wrongful death lawsuit: Horners want new trial after $108M ruling.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that the Court will allow defense experts to to examine Hana’s remains for use in the trial. They have yet to set a date for the exhumation. Murder trials are always slow moving and are usually continued many times. At this time, the trial is still scheduled for Feb 4, 2013.
Update Jan 4, 2012:
The trial has been postponed until July 22, 2013.
Also, here is a report I missed on Wednesday from Komo News. I had not heard that the Birth Certificate could not be trusted because it is from Ethiopia. I gather that means that the Baptismal Certificate I mentioned yesterday is also not valid in the eyes of the court.
According to a recent news story in the Skagit Valley Herald, Hana “Williams” will not rest in peace. The court has granted the prosecutors permission to exhume Hana’s body in order to prove her age. This is important because the charge of homicide by abuse only applies to victims under 16 years of age. According to a scanned baptismal certificate on the Remembrance of Hanna Willams Facebook page, Hana was born on March 8, 1997 (1/8/1989 according to the Ethiopian Calendar which is different from ours.) In this same hearing, Larry and Carri Williams pled not guilty to the new charges of manslaughter by domestic violence which I assume was added to the case for back up in just in case prosecutors are unable to prove homicide by abuse.
Linda Thomas has a very good synopsis of the case at MyNorthWest.com.
Also, Q13 Fox Seattle Tacoma also has a write up of the case.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that the prosecutors in the Williams case have added the charge of first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence to the existing charges of homicide by abuse for Hana and first-degree child assault for their younger adopted son. They also quote the charging documents as saying, “offense was part of an ongoing pattern of psychological, physical, or sexual abuse of a victim or multiple victims manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time.”
This new charge is most likely a back up in case they cannot use the charge of homicide by abuse which is only applicable to victims under 16. Since Hana’s age is not known, they cannot prove it in court at this time. There is a hearing scheduled for mid-December to decide if her body will be exhumed in order to determine her actual age.
This article is also posted in The Seattle Times with a few minor changes.
According to a recent article in the Skagit Valley Herold, prosecutors in the Hana “Willams” Case want her body exhumed in order to back up charges against her parents. In order to charge the Williams with Homicide by Abuse, they must prove that Hana was less than 16 years old and they can find no documentation of her age and therefore wish to examine her teeth and bones in order to verify her age at the time of death. The hearing to decide this will take place Friday, November 9, 2012
Update: This decision is being postponed.
The Williams Court Case is in the news again. This story in The Komo News reviews what happened to Hana Alemu “Williams” and how charges came to be filed over a year ago and brings us up to date with where the case stands now. For more info about this case, please see my Hana Amelu “Williams tag.
According to this news story:
Hana’s death also plays a prominent role in a new report ordered by the governor’s office on the severe abuse of adopted children. The state doesn’t do any background checks or home checks on international or private adoptions, and is looking into standardizing those procedures.
The report referenced can be found here, but remember that as it discusses this case and other severe abuse cases, it is probably not for the faint of heart.
I do not have the recently released DSHS report, but I do have the very disturbing sheriff’s report which was released last year.
Former Pearl follower Becky, from Created To Be His, shares a letter she wrote explaining her concerns with the Pearls and their teachings. In this letter she also explains what these teachings have to do with the death of Lydia Schatz and includes quotes from the book.
Many have wondered why Carri Williams adopted Hana only to abuse her to death. Someone with a little inside knowledge has speculated on the reasons and has graciously given me permission to share with my readers.
Here’s my take on why the Williams family chose to adopt–first of all, I think Carri’s main role in life was being a mother. From everything I’ve heard, her biological children are extremely well-behaved and obedient. Perhaps they were this way because the parents were implementing the Pearl method, and they knew they had to be “good”. . . or else the plumbing line was going to come out for a visit. I think Carri convinced herself that her kids were wonderful because she was such a great mother. [Read more…]
Michael Pearl has released an official statement on the tragic death of Hannah Williams on his No Greater Joy Facebook Page. This time he is not laughing. He explains that he tells parents not to abuse and gives some quotes to back that up. He didn’t even quote where he said not to use punishment on a child who has medical issues for not obeying, which I consider to be his best defense. However, I do not agree with him that anyone can follow his advice without being abusive, as he and I do not agree on our definitions of abuse. In fact, he never actually gives his definition of abuse, which is part of the problem. He says not to abuse but never tells them how far to go (other than to be 100% consistent) nor what constitutes abuse. Then, every time someone crosses the (invisible) line, he blames them for not doing it correctly.
Here is his statement for those who can’t or won’t visit Facebook:
Hanna Williams’ Death – Official Statementby No Greater Joy Ministries on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 12:07pm
We share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hanna Williams. What her parents did is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of No Greater Joy Ministries (NGJ) and what is taught in the book, To Train Up a Child (see quotes below). We are grieved by Hanna’s death as well as the nearly 1,700 other children that die in this country every year as the result of neglect or abuse. This is part of the motivation of NGJ to provide materials that are helping parents to raise healthy and happy children.
Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.
“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.” “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4
“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.” Page 9
“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25
“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32
“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50
“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51
These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents.
If, as alleged, Hanna’s parents owned a copy of the book, it is obvious from these quotes and their actions, that they either have not read it or totally ignored its contents. The book repeated warns parents against abuse and emphasizes the parents’ responsibility to love and properly care for their children, which includes training them for success. There are thousands upon thousands of parents (the book has sold over 660,000 copies) who have and are properly applying the philosophy in the book with the joyous results of happy, productive, well-adjusted children in loving successful families.
The alleged presence of the book makes it no more responsible for Hanna’s death than the presence of a weight loss book in the home of an overweight person is responsible for their obesity. Its presence is actually recognition that there was a problem and obtaining the book was an effort to solve it. Unfortunately, if Hanna’s parents own a copy they chose to ignore (or twist) the contents of the book that could have corrected their poor parenting and prevented the abuse and her death.
It is our desire to redouble our efforts to help families and to prevent future tragedies.
Michael Pearl, President
No Greater Joy Ministries
He is wrong about the Williams obtaining the book in an effort to solve the problem. They were using the Pearls’ materials for years before they adopted Hana and Immanuel. I don’t know how long ago they last read the book, but I have said many times that they twisted the advice therein. The only reason I link the Pearls to this tragedy at all is because of their Parents Must Win Every Battle At All Costs mindset which I feel could have something to do with the Williams’ need for control. I suspect that after all those years of Perfectly Obedient Children resulting from following the Pearls’ teachings, the fact that they were unable to get results from their adopted children pushed them off the deep end. I could be wrong, but this is how it looks to me. I thought that back on Sept 6 and the more I learn, the more it looks that way.
This has hit the news big time, I will share a few of the stories here for you.
King 5 News aka NWCN.com has posted the following news article which I will copy here for permanence
by KING 5 News
Posted on October 6, 2011 at 10:38 AM
Updated today at 12:11 PM
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A Sedro Wooley couple accused of torturing and starving their adopted 13-year-old daughter to death pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.
A judge set bail at $150,000 each for both Carri and Larry Williams. Investigators believe the couple repeatedly starved and beat Hana Williams, a girl they adopted from Ethiopia, and charged both with asasult of a child and homicide by abuse.
Hana was found dead in her backyard on May 12, naked and wrapped in a sheet. She had been living with her adoptive parents since coming to America from Ethiopia in 2008.
After months of investigation, her adopted parents were charged in connection with her death.
Skagit County Prosecutor Richard Weyrich said Hana Williams’s death ranks right up there for one of the worst cases he’s ever prosecuted.
In the charging documents, Carri Williams talked about how much she disliked her two adopted Ethiopian children, a 10-year-old boy and Hana.
“She died of hypothermia and you know part of that is having lost so much weight over the past year, months…she had lost 30 pounds,” Weyrich said.
According to charging documents, Carri and Larry Williams starved Hana for days, put her in a locked closet, shower room and forced her to sleep outside in the barn in the cold. She wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom in the house, instead, she used a porta-potty behind the barn. In addition, Hana was struck daily with a plumbing tool, a tube with a round ball on the end.
Members of Seattle’s Ethiopian community want justice.
“She’s a child whose life was trusted in their hands,” said Azeb Aberra, Ethiopian Community Mutual Association. “And they broke that trust and so it’s heartbreaking to hear this.”
Larry Williams is a 26-year employee with Boeing. He is currently on unpaid leave.
All of the William’s biological children and adopted son have been removed from the home.
Family members in the courtroom Thursday refused to comment.
The Komo News has the following article:
By KOMO Staff Published: Oct 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM PDT
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – The parents of an adopted girl who died of exposure in her own backyard after she had been starved and abused for months pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday.
Larry P. Williams and Carri D. Williams of Sedro Woolley were arrested last week and later charged with homicide by abuse and assault of a child in the first degree in Skagit County Superior Court.
Each was ordered held Thursday on $150,000 bail.
According to court documents, the couple’s adopted daughter, Hana Williams, 13, was systematically starved, beaten, forced to use an outdoor toilet and sometimes locked in a dark closet for days by the Williams.
Hana Williams was found dead in May – naked, face-down in the mud in her own backyard – after she had spent much of a cold, rainy day outside as a punishment, according to court documents.
Although she died of hypothermia, there were other contributing causes to her death, including severe malnutrition and chronic gastritis, doctors said.
The Williams had adopted Hana from Ethiopia in 2008 as a diseased little girl to begin a new life in America.
Instead, according to court records, she was beaten, starved, forced to sleep in a barn at times and deprived of love and basic necessities.
Child Protective Services said there are reports that Hana had lost a significant amount of weight before her death. And the night she died, she was out in the yard naked on a rainy evening, with temperatures in the low 40s.
Further investigation revealed that Hana had a number of injuries on the night she died, including a large lump on the head, bloody marks and injuries “consistent with disciplinary impacts with a switch,” according to court documents released Friday.
Those same documents describe the hellish life that Hana endured in the months before her death – which included systematic withholding of food, forced times outdoors in the cold or locked in a dark closet, interspersed with regular spankings or beatings with a plumbing tool.
In interviews with the parents and other children in the household, investigators determined that the Williams withheld food from Hana as a punishment for being “rebellious,” court documents say.
In addition, Hana was forced to use an outdoor portable toilet behind the barn instead of the home’s indoor bathroom, and she sometimes was made to take cold showers while naked outdoors under a garden hose, the case file says.
The Williams told investigators that they made Hana use the outdoor toilet because she had hepatitis and they didn’t want any of their other children to become infected with the disease.
Other punishments included locking Hana inside a dark closet for hours or days without food while the parents played the Bible on tape and Christian music for her while she was locked inside, according to court documents.
Hana also was forced to sleep in the barn on some nights or kept outside for hours in the cold without adequate clothing or shoes, court documents say – but she was allowed to wear shoes if there was snow on the ground.
The Williams also confirmed that they used a flexible plumbing tool as a switch to punish Hana and some of the other children in their household.
The children told investigators that Hana sometimes was beaten with a switch for standing more than 12 inches away from where she was told to stand or for speaking without permission.
The Williams’ older biological children were sometimes encouraged to join in administering the punishment by their parents.
A witness told investigators that the Williams got their ideas for the disciplinary measures from a book, “How to Train Up Your Child,” which recommends switchings with a plumbing tool, cold water baths, withholding food and putting children out in cold weather as forms of punishment.
The Williams’ other adopted child, a 10-year-old boy who also was adopted at the same time as Hana, is deaf – and also reportedly showed signs of abuse.
Prosecutors say the first-degree assault accusation against the Williams stems from allegations relating to the boy, who was also from Ethiopia but no relation to Hana.
According to court papers, the Williams also withheld food from the boy at times and switched him regularly – sometimes for not listening to them – even though he was deaf.
After Hana’s death, CPS convinced a judge to pull Hana’s eight brothers and sister – ages seven to 17 – from their Sedro-Woolley home. Those children are all now in temporary foster care. The parents have requested a hearing to fight to get their children back.
This article was found on Reuters. Pasted here for permanence
Couple accused of starving daughter plead not guilty
By Nicole Neroulias
SEATTLE | Thu Oct 6, 2011 7:37pm EDT
(Reuters) – A couple accused of starving their adopted 13-year-old Ethiopian-born daughter and locking her outside in the cold, where she died from exposure, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to homicide and child abuse charges.
Although investigators found the Washington state couple adhered to a harsh child-rearing regimen prescribed by a controversial Christian parenting book, the prosecutor said Thursday that religion was not relevant to the criminal case.
Larry and Carri Williams, of Sedro-Woolley — a town about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia — were arrested September 29, more than four months after their daughter, Hana, died of hypothermia in their backyard.
A Skagit County Superior Court judge reduced their bail from $500,000 to $150,000 each on Thursday, and barred them from contact with their eight remaining children, who were placed into foster care in July, or with each other.
Each is charged with homicide by abuse in connection with their daughter’s death, and first-degree assault of a child stemming from mistreatment of her adopted 10-year-old brother from Ethiopia.
If convicted each faces a prison term of between 20 and 29 years, according to state sentencing guidelines.
Hana Williams, adopted from Ethiopia by the couple in 2008, died on May 12 after she was found unconscious outside shortly after midnight, in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, authorities said.
Investigators say the abuse she endured included beatings, starvation, being forced to sleep outside and use an outdoor toilet, and that she had lost a significant amount of weight since her adoption. Prosecutors said the 10-year-old brother was similarly mistreated.
The parents kept the family isolated from non-relatives, home-schooled the children and followed strict religious principles described in the Christian parenting book titled “How to Train Up a Child,” investigators said.
According to court documents, their 16-year-old son told investigators that Hana “was kept in a locked closet and the only light switch was on the outside of the closet. He stated that his mother would take her out every other day to walk and exercise. They played the Bible on tape and Christian music for her while she was locked in the closet.”
But Prosecutor Rich Weyrich insisted that issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple. “Religion’s not an element we have to probe. We have to prove that the children were assaulted, tortured and died,” he told Reuters on Thurday.
Larry Williams, 47, who works for Boeing, and his wife, Carri, 40, a stay-at-home mother, were being held in Skagit County Jail.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)