Maureen remembers Hana Alemu “Williams” and gives us a small update in Remembering Hana: May 12, 2011.
Maureen shares an update of the Barbour case, in which Kristen Barbour was sentenced to 6-12 months for pleading no contest to the felony charge of endangering her 2 adopted Ethiopian children. What I find most surprising is that she will be allowed to go home and take care of her children for 40 hours per week. This is all explained in this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Update: More about the Barbour case in this article: Franklin Park child abuse case draws protest, counter-protest.
She then goes on to tell us about Carri Williams and the 59 page appeal brief she has filed, which she has on her site for us to read. This is a lot to read, but I’ll try to summarize what I can understand. They argue that it was not proven that Hana was under 16 nor that Immanuel’s scars were caused by Carri, that the terms “torture” and “extreme indifference to human life” were unconstitutionally vague and that she was deprived of a necessary witness. They bring up the witness who claimed to be Hana’s uncle and testified to her age being 13 and then fled instead of returning to Ethiopia. It later came out that the State had paid him for his testimony. His testimony was stricken from the case, but the jury had heard it. They also show where the prosecuting atty gave opinions and was instructed by the judge to stop more than once. For these reasons, they believe that it should have been ruled a mistrial.
For more on the Williams case, please see my Hana Alemu “Williams” tag.
Maureen, at Light Of Day Stories, remembers the verdict one year ago today.
There are so many tragic cases of abuse, I don’t usually mention them unless the abuse was clearly tied to Christian teachings. In the case of the Barbours the ties are not indisputable, but there are some pretty good hints. Thankfully, this case did not end in death.
Maureen compares the Barbours with the Williams and finds quite a few eerie similarities.
There is a lot of information the 2 articles she links to from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
This story from Oct 2012 tells about how the adoption ended in tragedy.
This story from June 2014 is the follow up and tells us that the couple pleaded No Contest.
Maureen has a follow up to the Hana Story which I found interesting.
Maureen has an update on the Williams, just to tie up loose ends.
Tuesday October 29, 2013, the Williams were sentenced to prison for a very long time. Carri has been sentenced for 37 years and Larry for almost 28 years.
Cindy Kunsman, of Under Much Grace, responds to Judge Cook’s comment, “I am at a complete loss as to why this happened,” in An Open Message to Judge Susan Cook About the Williams’ Sentencing: The Development of the Perfect Storm, in which she attempts to explain why.
After the sentencing, the Ethiopian Community Center had a graveside service for Hana. (More about the graveside service.) They are working on getting a proper headstone for her grave. So far, they have not been successful because the family owns the plot so they are considering making a memorial elsewhere. For more information on that, see the Facebook Group.
I should also mention that this might not be the last we hear of this story as there has been talk of an appeal.
Here are some news stories:
Skagit County couple sentenced to prison for adopted daughter’s death in the Seattle Times.
Couple given long sentences for death of adopted girl on King 5 News which includes video from the sentencing. In this video we see a family friend speaking on the Williams’ behalf calling them “two of the truest and purest people on this earth.” I find that statement so flabbergasting that I don’t even know how to respond to it.
Religious Handbook Parents Carri and Larry Williams Given 65 Years for Killing Ethiopian Daughter in the UK Paper, the International Business Times.
The Skagit Valley Herald has an article (Subscriber Content) which states that Prosecutors have dropped the charge of Homicide By Abuse against Larry Williams. Those who were following the trial may remember that the jury was deadlocked on that charge and were unable to return a verdict for it. The charge was officially dropped on Sept 23.
Sentencing was originally scheduled for Oct 8, but it has been postponed until Oct 29 at 9:30 AM.
Mareen also writes about this, here.
The Seattle Times also has an article here.
Monday, September 9, 2013 the jury returned the verdict. Carri Williams was found guilty of homicide by abuse and
first-degree assault of a child. Larry Williams was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault of a child. There was no verdict on homicide by abuse charge for Larry. The jury was unable to agree and/or the judge declared a mistrial on that charge. Sentencing is up to the judge and I heard that it would be in mid-October.
Here is the story in the Seattle Times.
Certainly, there will be many articles written on this story. In an effort to get this breaking news to you right away, I will post this now and add in a few links to the best articles as I find them.
Here is Maureen’s report.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is the story on Komo News. In this story I found out that Larry’s Defense plans to file an appeal.
Here is the story in the US edition of The Guardian which appears to be an overseas paper.
Here is Janet Heimlich’s report of the story on her blog, Religious Child Maltreatment.
I totally did not expect any more drama in this trial until the verdict was reached but I was wrong. One of the jurors disclosed that his wife works for the Prosecutor’s office during Jury Selection and both attorneys were fine with it then and accepted him. Today, he was asked to be Presiding Juror and he declined, saying that it made him uncomfortable. Then the Defense decided that they no longer wanted him on the jury and he was asked to leave. A new juror has been selected from the alternates and the 2.5 hours they had deliberated is now lost, as they need to start all over with the new juror.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald. The jury then asked to hear the 911 call and interview again.
Here is the story on King 5.
Maureen explains how to follow the trial in real time on Twitter.
At 4:30 PDT, the jurors were sent home for the weekend.
Thursday, September 5, 2013, saw Carri Williams defense team giving closing arguments and the Prosecution’s rebuttal. Then the jury was sent out for deliberation and the No Contact Order for Larry, Carri and their 2 adult sons was lifted.
According to a tweet by Gina Cole, Dependency court will decide on dissolution of or limits on no-contact orders with the minor biological children. I hope that means that there is no risk of them gaining access to Immanuel. Here is her article in the Skagit Valley Herald about the Closing Arguments by Carri’s Public Defender. As always, all stories have potential triggers and are not for the sensitive.
Here is the story on Komo News.
Here is the story on KiroTV in which they interview our own Maureen.
I would also like to thank Cindy at Under Much Grace for her kind words. All the glory to God. I am grateful that He has chosen to use me in this small way. I also thank Maureen for her kind words. I am very thankful for her excellent reporting and am more than happy to promote it as the best source of information on this trial.
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.
Cindy Kunsman, from Under Much Grace, looks at the Williams Trial and compares the Williams family with the Schatz family in
Awaiting the Verdicts in the Williams Trial: Another Michael Pearl/To Train Up A Child Associated Death. She also gives a brief outline of Pearl and his teachings and a lamentation for the devastation they have caused both to Christian families as well as to the lost who observe and turn away in disgust.
Maureen looks at the homeschoolings aspect of the Williams in Homeschooling, Christians, Identity, and Isolation. (Speaking of Maureen, I just added a (very triggering) link to the 2nd half of Carri’s testimony to last friday’s post.)
Friday, August 30, 2013 was disturbing for me. *Those easily triggered should stop reading now*. Carri’s testimony was about Hana’s last night alive.
Carri Williams actually said that she believes that Hana unintentionally killed herself. I know that I am not the only one who is disturbed by this.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald. It boggles my mind that Carri says that she couldn’t stand to watch Hana stumbling around, throwing herself to the ground so she turned away. Apparently it never crossed her mind to go outside and bring her in by force. Nor did it ever cross her mind to call paramedics, as she claims that she had done things like this before. Bear in mind that none of the family had seen a doctor since 2009 and Hana died in 2011.
Here is the story on King5 which contains some of Carri’s testimony. Carri actually accused the prosecuting attorney of ripping her family apart. She clearly does not accept any responsibility, let alone guilt, in the matter at all.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is the story on Komo News.
Here is Maureen’s detailed report.
Here is the 2nd part of Maureen’s report.
Carri was the last witness, Defense rests. Court will rest for the long weekend and closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday.
As always, if I find more stories from this day, they will be added to this post.
Edited to add: There is quite a bit of video footage of Carri’s testimony mixed into this tribute video.
Tuesday August 27, 2013 saw both Joshua and Larry Williams take the stand. Maureen covers both stories in great detail in 2 separate posts.
Here is Maureen’s post about Joshua who is the Williams oldest child. He is 19 or 20 and is in the Army, serving in Korea. His testimony was focused on if he had heard his parents arguing and if Larry was really the boss of the household. At first he said that he was but it appears that at some point things changed. In this post is the beginning of Larry’s testimony. He admits to feeling ashamed and responsible because he did not intervene.
Here is Maureen’s post about the rest of Larry’s testimony. He said that every decision was Carri’s. He had decided that the discipline was not working and wanted her to change but she would not. When asked why he didn’t take things into his own hands, he explained that he wished that he had but Carri had him convinced by her track record that she knew what she was doing. He also went into the whole story of how and why they adopted the children and how the harsh discipline started.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
In case anyone has noticed the change in my numbering, I thought I should explain. I started off numbering the first day of Jury Selection as Day 1 but since noticed that all the media was referring to the day of Opening Statements as Day 1. This causes confusion and I decided to change to reflect the common numeration. My URLs will continue to reflect my old numbering system to avoid a bunch of redirects.
Monday, August 26, 2013. The morning started with the last witness for the Prosecution, a pediatrician who specializes on child abuse. He testified that Hana was not just malnourished, but was starved and explained the cycle of abuse which typically leads to such a condition. Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald (which is not for the easily triggered.)
After that witness, the jury was dismissed and motions were heard. The lawyers for Larry tried to dismiss the charges for various reasons. One of the reasons was problems with Hana’s biological cousin. The problems and concerns had enough merit that the judge decided to strike his testimony which basically means that it has been deleted. The Skagit Valley Herald explains. You can also find the story on KiroTV.
Maureen is back in the courtroom and provides us with much insight from Monday’s court session. Of course, the faint of heart will read at their own risk. I applaud Maureen for her dedication, her fortitude and her excellent writing.
Also, check out this piece in the Seattle Times which brings up the teachings of Michael Pearl in “To Train Up A Child.”
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.
As usual the testimony for Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 is not for the sensitive. The sheriff who interviewed Carri just hours after Hana’s death took the stand and played a recording of the interview. Carri was not emotional and the big headline of the day is that she blamed Hana for her own death. She also told the sheriff that Hana was the healthiest person in the family. Apparently, the fact that Hana had lost 30% of her body weight did not raise any red flags with her. She also, apparently, forgot about Hana’s Hepatitis B (the reason they give for making her use a port-a-potty.)
The other development of the day was that Larry William’s Defense tried to subpoena the Prosecuting Attorney, Rich Weyrich, as a witness. The reason for this was that when Hana’s cousin (who was flown in to testify about Hana’s age) missed his flight back to Ethiopia, Rich Weyrich took evidence out of his hotel room and kept it for 3 days before turning it in. As prospective witnesses are not allowed to be in the courtroom, this would have made him unable to act the part of Prosecuting Attorney. The judge ruled that the evidence in question had nothing to do with the case and did not allow him to be barred from the courtroom.
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald. Updated: Here is another story with much more info. It also goes into the testimony of a church member who fosters the Williams children for a while and how one of the older boys did not allow his little sister to go swimming because he found the one piece swimsuit to be too revealing. Incredibly enough, she stated that the same boy had said that Hana was fat.
And here is the story from KiroTV.
For more details, live as it happens, check out #Williamstrial on Twitter. You will probably want to click “All.” It took me a while to notice that and I was only seeing “Top.”
Also, Maureen has a post about the article in the Seattle Times which includes a wrap up of Immanuel’s testimony.
Today, Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013, Immanuel was back in court after a 3 day break. There was no court session on Monday, in case anyone was wondering. The defense attorneys continue to play hard ball with poor Immanuel, which is very upsetting. Here is the story on Kiro TV. Also, Maureen has a post about that called, “Snakes, A Child, and Defense Attorneys.”
Also on the stand today was someone who volunteered at Hana’s orphanage who testified that she was healthy, well fed and appeared to be less than 10 years old when she was adopted according to an article in the Skagit Valley Herald.
In other news, apparently Hana’s biological cousin did not take his flight home to Ethiopia, which means that he has overstayed his visa. Police are now searching for him. Now the defense attorneys are using this as a reason to doubt his testimony. Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald and here is the story on Kiro TV.
Edited to add: Here is the story on King5 which tells us that another relative in Texas said that the missing cousin is ok. Which begs the question, why did not not testify as to Hana’s age? I can only assume that he is a distant relative who did not know her.
Today I would like to reflect on why we are following this trial. It is because the Williams were Pearl Followers. Their 7 biological children were all raised by the Pearl method and Carri was very happy and confident in this method being the best for everyone. I know this from reading on the Remembrance of Hana Williams Facebook Group and from private messages from people who knew the Williams. I have been told that she would recommend To Train Up A Child, by Michael Pearl to everyone, even going so far as to give people the book. Some have told me that they read the book and threw it away in disgust. But they were intimidated by how confident she was and how perfect her children appeared and so most did nothing. Someone did try to confront her about the abuse and was harshly scolded.
This is why this trial is so interesting to me. When they adopted the children, they apparently expected them to also conform to the teachings and when they did not, they went WAY outside of what the Pearls teach. I do not want to imply that they were following the Pearls’ teachings in regards to the adopted children. The only thing they were following was the spirit of always winning, always being consistent and ever admitting defeat. For more on that, please see my post, “Why Blame The Pearls At All?”.
I also read in the same Facebook group that the girls used to always dress like “Little House On The Prairie” but wore jeans to court when they testified. This speaks volumes to me. It took a lot of guts to defy their parents in that way. They had to know that would upset and displease them. Changing from a lifetime of all dresses to pants is a big step and can take years. In a formal setting like court, they would not stand out for wearing dresses. This makes me suspect that they have lost respect for their parents and their teachings. Of course, it is also possible that the defense attorneys asked them to wear pants to show the court how normal they are and that they were not damaged by their upbringing. I have no way of knowing, but I doubt that the Williams approved.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports that a Forensic Dentist testified as to Hana’s likely age today and the best he could do was that she was somewhere between 13 and 18 years of age. He testified that she was probably at least 15 but would not be surprised if he were to find out that she was 13. Hana’s biological cousin also testified today and I already know from his posts in the Facebook Group that she is 13. If the jury believes the forensic dentist over the cousin, the Williams will be charged with Manslaughter By Domestic Violence instead of Homicide By Abuse.
Larry Williams’ sister says she saw Carri Williams throw herself on Hana’s casket and sob “Hana, I’m so sorry.” #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 9, 2013
Here is the story with video from KiroTV. They say that even if the jury were to throw out the charge of Homicide By Abuse, they could still spend decades in jail for manslaughter and assault.
Please note that Maureen has posted part 2 of her case study.
Also, I added this article to yesterday’s post. It has some new information in it. (This article is Subscriber Content and will add a cookie to your browser. You are allowed to read 5 such articles in each 30 day period)
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.
Today, Monday, August 5, 2013, two of the Williams’ biological daughters testified according to the Skagit Valley Herald. One of them testified that the biological children were punished the same way as the adopted children were and that she never saw marks on their bodies from the spankings. The girls confirmed many of the details from prior witnesses testimonies. Since these children were trained to always tell the truth and to obey adults, I tend to believe what they say. Or at least, I believe that they believe everything they say…
The trial adjourned early so one of the jurors could go to the doctor according to the Skagit Valley Herald.
Here the article from KiroTV which has more (disturbing) information and video. In this report, they mention To Train Up A Child.
Maureen can no longer attend the trial as she is on vacation. I will miss her insights but I am happy that she is taking a well deserved break from this.
If you want up to the minute Tweets about the trial, you will want to follow Gina Cole of the Skagit Valley Herald.
Here is the link to Maureen’s report for Wednesday, July 31, 2013. As usual, any potential witnesses and jurors should stay away from both this site and hers. I will include a very brief summary below for the faint of heart and the time-strapped.
Here is a report from Tadias.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 was taken up with the testimony of Julia Peterson, Immanuel’s Therapist. She is deaf, as is Immanuel, and testified with the help of two hearing interpreters. She began working with Immanuel in Dec 2011.
Ms. Peterson testified that Immanuel was very fearful of making mistakes and that he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD.) The defense lawyers tried to get her to agree that it was possible that his PSTD came from trauma he suffered in Ethiopia, but she was very firm that it came from the trauma which he suffered at the hands of the Williams. The defense lawyers also tried to get her to agree to hypothetical statements which she refused to do.
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.
Yesterday, Monday July 29th, was Immanuel’s first day of testimony. He is scheduled for 3 half days. Here are the reports I have found so far for that day.
Komo News reports on Immanuel’s testimony.
Also, someone who apparently knows the family attempts to explain what happened in this comment. Edited to note that the comments have been stripped from this article.
Kiro TV reports on Immanuel’s Testimony in Boy tells jury his adopted parents beat him until he bled. From the video which accompanies this story, I found out that they played the 911 call in court today and that Immanuel will testify for 2 more days. As usual, this story/video is not for the sensitive because of child abuse triggers.
Edited to add: Maureen has finally posted her report of yesterday’s testimony. This is a hard case to watch and I’m not at all surprised that she was not ready to post last night. While not easy to read, I think that all but the most sensitive could handle it. She does mention upsetting things, of course so those with abuse triggers should probably stay away from this case entirely (as should any jurors and potential witnesses.)
Maureen has been doing a great job giving us objective reports on the Williams Trial. She now gives us her own thoughts about the trial as a “fierce advocate for adoption policy that is transparent and has integrity.” As she warns, she takes off her gloves; and if you cannot tolerate any discussion of harsh treatment of children, this is not the case for you to be following closely. Reading her words is heartbreaking. Finding out that the Williams are willing to have their children testify in court, thereby reliving the trauma is heartbreaking. Today Immanuel is scheduled to testify, reliving his trauma and abuse. Stay tuned for further updates.
Also, don’t miss this chance to get to know Maureen better. <3