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Williams son: Mom tried to train Hana to “think differently”


Williams son: Mom tried to train Hana to “think differently”

Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 1:00 pm | Updated: 10:08 pm, Wed Aug 7, 2013.

by Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — When Carri Williams made her adopted daughter, Hana, spend a night or day in a closet as a punishment, she would play a recording of the Bible, Carri’s 11-year-old biological son testified Wednesday morning.

“She was trying to get Hana’s brain to think differently,” the boy said.

Hana died in the backyard of the family’s Sedro-Woolley home in May 2011, three years after the Williamses adopted her and another Ethiopian child. She was believed to be about 13 at the time.

Larry and Carri are now charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in Hana’s death, and with first-degree assault in connection with alleged abuse of the adopted boy. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

None of the other children ever slept in a closet, their 11-year-old son said Wednesday. When Hana did, she ate her meals there or outside on the patio, he said. The adopted son often ate outside with her, but the biological children usually didn’t, he said. The adopted children’s dinners were sometimes served cold while everyone else’s were warm, he said.

The adopted children were spanked every day because they disobeyed their new parents — more often than the biological children who were “rarely” spanked, the boy testified.

He went on to say he never saw the adopted children be spanked and never saw marks on them from spankings.

Hana collapsed around midnight the night she died. The boy on the stand Wednesday said he’d gone to bed at about 10:30 p.m., but he recalled Hana was still outside then and had been since it was light out.

Prosecutor Rich Weyrich asked the boy what he remembered happening that day and night.

“Well, Hana was getting cold, so mom told her to do jumping jacks, but she wouldn’t do jumping jacks,” the boy said.

The Williamses’ 13-year-old biological daughter said the same thing Tuesday, adding that two of her older brothers went outside more than once to hit Hana’s legs with a switch when she tried to stop exercising.

Marks on Hana’s legs showed she could have recently been struck “at least 14 times” with an implement like the plastic tubing the Williams family used to discipline their children, Dr. Daniel Selove pointed out last week in autopsy photos.

Weyrich brought up a past interview in which the boy said Carri Williams once gathered the children to watch and laugh as Hana gave them a “big show” on the patio. The boy said Wednesday he didn’t remember saying that.

Wednesday was the first time the boy had seen his parents since September 2011. The eight children have been with relatives or in foster care while the case was pending.

The morning ended with more testimony from Detective Dan Luvera of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, who discussed deputies’ search of the Williams home in August 2011. They seized some books and videos as evidence, including a video called “Child Training.”

Defense lawyers Rachel Forde and Wes Richards reviewed photos Luvera took during the search. The photos showed the heights and ages of all the children written on a wall, family pictures that included the two adopted children and a picture of Hana posted with information about her memorial service.

When investigators interviewed the Williams children about two weeks after Hana died, Carri Williams did not interfere, but did offer her thoughts on what their deaf adopted son was trying to say even though a sign language interpreter was there, Luvera said.

An Ethiopian man believed to be Hana’s biological cousin was set to take the stand Wednesday afternoon, but the interpreter assigned to translate his testimony was nowhere to be found.

“This is about as inconvenient as a no-show can be,” Judge Susan Cook said. Prosecutors flew the man here from Ethiopia this week to testify. He is now scheduled to testify Thursday afternoon.

Instead Wednesday, two neighbors testified about their observations of and interactions with the Williams family.

Patricia Barnts lives across the street, and her six children used to play with the Williams children. She said she did not see Hana as often in the year before she died, but when she did see her, the girl was walking 20 to 30 feet behind her mother and sisters. Hana was thinner and “seemed sad,” she said.

After that occasion, Carri Williams came to the Barnts’ doorstep unannounced to tell her Hana chose to not walk with everyone else.

Barnts said she now sees the adopted boy at church, and he seems “more expressive,” “more joyful” and talks to people more.

Debra Anderson also lives on the same block as the Williamses and also said she saw the adopted children less in the year before Hana died. The last time Anderson saw Hana, in summer 2010, she was walking about 30 feet behind Carri Williams and some of the other children.

When they walked by, Anderson said “hi” to Hana and the girl gave “kind of a little smile” and kept walking, Anderson testified.

Both neighbors said they’d never seen Larry or Carri Williams discipline any of their children.

— Reporter Gina Cole: 360-416-2148, gcole@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Gina_SVH, facebook.com/byGinaCole

2013 Aug 7