A Washington state couple were convicted of manslaughter Monday in the gruesome starvation and hypothermia death of a teenage girl they adopted from Ethiopia.
A jury found Larry Williams, of Sedro-Woolley, guilty of first-degree manslaughter, while his wife, Carri Williams, was found guilty of homicide by abuse as well as manslaughter. The jury also convicted them both of assault and each faces a possible life sentence.
Hana Williams died in May 2011 in the backyard of the couple’s home, where she was forced to stay as part of a strict system of child-rearing outlined in a Christian parenting book.
Manslaughter: Larry (left) and Carri Williams react in a Washington court Monday as a jury read their guilty verdict. The couple were guilty of manslaughter in the death of their 13-year-old Ethiopian adopted daughter
Dragged away: Carri Williams is taken into custody last month after a jury deemed her guilty of the 2011 death of her daughter. She was also found guilty of homicide by abuse
Hana Williams was found frozen and starved to death in the yard of her adoptive parents’ Washington home in 2011. They were given maximum sentences today for causing her death
An autopsy showed that Hana died of hypothermia that was aggravated by chronic gastritis and malnutrition.
Her bone-thin body was covered in bruises, including a lump on her shaved head, and red bloody markings on her hips, elbows and face.
Defense lawyers argued that questionable parenting practices don’t necessarily amount to a crime.
Hana is believed to have been 13, but no documentation of her birth in Ethiopia was available. The trial was postponed several times and her body was exhumed in January.
The jury began deliberating last week. On Monday, they announced their decision to convict both the Williams’ of first degree manslaughter.
The class A felonies can mean life in prison and/or $50,000 fines, according to the Skagit Valley Herald.
The jury was unable to decide if Larry Williams was guilty of homicide by abuse. In the end, only Carri Williams was convicted on that charge.
Both Larry and Carri were also convicted of first degree assault on Hana’s adopted brother Immanuel.
Tests on Hana’s teeth and bones gave varying estimates and experts were unable to agree on her age.
Her age was significant because the homicide by abuse charge applies only if the victim was younger than 16, though experts were unable to say for sure if she was or was not. She was adopted in 2008.
Guilty: Larry Williams listens in Skagit County court days before a jury found him and wife Carri guilty of neglecting and ultimately killing their adopted Ethiopian daughter Hana
Wicked: Carri Williams cries during her trial. She was convicted of homicide by abuse in addition to manslaughter
A foster mother testified during the trial that the couple’s other adopted son Immanuel was rail-thin and covered in scratches when she took him in.
The testimony from Sheila Jackson came on day 18 of the Williams murder trial.
The couple left their 13-year-old Hana, to starve and die in the cold after brutally punishing her and her step-brother, Immanuel.
Jackson, who is deaf, told the jury in a Mount Vernon courtroom that when the Williamses’ son Immanuel, who was also adopted from Ethiopia, came to live with her, she could barely keep up with his demands for food.
Remorseful? Williams is pictured here testifying for his defense in August. The Washington man and his wife were both found guilty of first degree manslaughter and both face a possible life sentence
Extreme: The deeply religious couple are believed to have been following an extreme form of Christian parenting outlined in the book To Train a Child
‘He ate fast. He ate a lot. He ate more than I expected,’ she told on the stand, the station KIRO-TV reported
Following the couple’s arrest, Child Protective Services removed Immanuel and seven other children from their home.
Sheila Jackson said the boy was terrified to talk about his adoptive parents.
Wasting away: Hana, pictured left sometime after her arrival in the U.S., lost nearly 30lbs between 2009 and 2011, and had her head shaven when she was found dead in the backyard
Angelic: Hana, pictured second left, seen as a young girl with her family back in Ethiopia
According to the foster mother, the child was so emaciated that his ribs were showing through his skin covered in markings from past beatings.
Immanuel, now 12 years old, testified during the trial that the Williamses beat him and Hana with belts and switches.
Lingering fear: Foster mother Sheila Jackson, who took in Immanuel after the Williamses’ arrest, said the boy was very thin, always hungry and terrified to talk about his adoptive parents
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 ‘To Train Up a Child,’ investigators said.
As punishment for bad behaviour, the teen told the court that he and his step-sister were fed frozen meals, hosed down and forced to sleep in closets, where they would listen to recordings of the Bible on tape and Christian music.