Parents accused of killing adopted Ethiopian daughter 'were inspired by religious discipline book that encourages children to be biblically punished'
By Jessica Satherley
The parents accused of killing their 13-year-old adopted daughter, are being investigated over whether they were inspired by a book that encourages children to be biblically punished.
The Washington couple deny homicide and child abuse charges relating to the death of Ethiopian-born Hana Willaims, who apparently lived in a closet and was denied meals for days at a time.
But investigators are looking into whether the Christian book, titled 'To Train Up a Child' may have been involved in the death of Hana and will be shown in a CNN documentary.
Gary Tuchman will be reporting on the allegations in the show titled ‘Ungodly Discipline’ on Anderson Cooper’s 360 news show, despite prosecutors insisting that issues of faith were not a factor in the case against the couple.
Hana, who was adopted from Ethiopia by Larry, 47, and Carri Williams, 40, in 2008, died on May 12 after she was found unconscious outside shortly after midnight, in temperatures of around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, authorities said.
Although investigators found the Washington state couple adhered to a harsh child-rearing regimen prescribed by a controversial Christian parenting book, the prosecutor said earlier this month 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 October 6, 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.
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 "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,' he said.
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 said.
The Skagit Valley Herald reported that Carri Williams called 911 early May 12 and reported Hana was not breathing.
Williams said the girl was being 'rebellious' and that she had seen her daughter falling down and staggering in the backyard, and that the girl had taken all her clothes off. She said Hana had refused to come into the house before she was found face down down in the backyard with mud in her mouth.
She was taken to the hospital, where she died of hypothermia at 1:30am.
However, an autopsy found malnutrition and a stomach infection were contributing factors.