crimesider

Wash. St. couple convicted in adopted daughter's death from malnutrition, hypothermia

Hana Williams
KIRO

(CBS/AP) MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - A husband and wife from Washington State were convicted of manslaughter Wednesday following a five-week trial in the malnutrition and hypothermia death of a teenage girl they adopted from Ethiopia.

Jurors found Larry Williams of Sedro-Woolley guilty of first-degree manslaughter. They convicted his wife, Carri Williams, of homicide by abuse, as well as manslaughter.

Hana Williams, who is believed to have been 13 years old, died in the backyard of the family's home in May 2011. Prosecutors said she was starved, beaten and forced outside as punishment.

The jury also convicted the couple of assault of a child for abusing Immanuel Williams, a younger boy they adopted from Ethiopia at the same time as the girl.

The jury couldn't reach a decision on the homicide by abuse charge for Larry Williams, and the judge declared a mistrial on that count.

Larry and Carri Williams face a maximum life sentence, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

CBS affiliate KIRO reports Immanuel and several of the Williams' other seven children said Hana and Immanuel were fed frozen food and slept in closets. Hana showered outside and had her head shaved. She was punished for not washing the shampoo out of her hair, for cutting the grass incorrectly and for getting her homework wrong.

During the trial, attorneys for Larry Williams argued he was at work as his wife home-schooled and disciplined the adopted children as well as their own seven children, the station reports. They argued an eating disorder may have caused Hana to waste away to 78 pounds.

Defense lawyers for both Larry and Carri Williams argued that questionable parenting practices don't necessarily amount to a crime. Lawyers for both said an appeal is likely.

While 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. Tests on her 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.

Hana Williams was adopted in 2008.

KIRO reports the judge immediately ordered Carri Williams to be taken into custody following the verdict. Her bail is set at 1.5 million dollars. Larry Williams is already in custody accused of trying to contact the couple's children - violating a court order.

  • Stephanie Slifer

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