exposing the dark side of adoption
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Willliams daughter: Adopted daughter left in the cold, told to exercise

Willliams daughter: Adopted daughter left in the cold, told to exercise
Hana Williams of Sedro-Woolley died in May 2011. Her parents face charges in connection with her death. She is believed to have been 13 years old when she died.

Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 4:20 pm | Updated: 5:09 pm, Tue Aug 6, 2013.

By Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — Larry and Carri Williams’ 13-year-old biological daughter returned to the stand this morning, confirming much of Monday's testimony — that the family’s adopted children often ate frozen vegetables and wet sandwiches, outside instead of at the table, and did not sleep in bedrooms with the other children.

The Williams family adopted two Ethiopian children in 2008. Three years later, one of them, Hana, collapsed in the family’s Sedro-Woolley backyard and died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition.

Larry and Carri Williams are now charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter because prosecutors say the way they treated Hana caused the girl’s death.

They also are charged with first-degree assault in connection with alleged abuse of their adopted son, who is now in foster care. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Hana started out sleeping in a bedroom with all her new sisters, but was eventually moved to a shower room, then a closet, and was a few times sent out to the family’s barn with a sleeping bag, the 13-year-old Williams girl testified.

Behind the barn, 80 or so feet from the house, was a portable toilet the Williamses got for Hana to use because they believed her hygiene was inadequate. The daughter who testified this morning said she never saw anyone else use the outdoor toilet.

When Hana slept in the closet, she sometimes stayed there during the day, the girl testified. She went on to say she never saw anyone bring food to the closet for Hana.

The girl said she didn’t remember whether any of the children spoke to Hana in the week before she died.

On the night of her death, in May 2011, Hana had been outside for several hours, until the rainy sky grew dark. Carri Williams put out dry clothes for Hana and told her to do exercises such as jumping jacks to stay warm, the 13-year-old testified this morning.

When Hana tried to stop the exercises several times, two of the older biological Williams brothers went outside and hit her on the backs of her legs with a plastic switch, the daughter testified this morning. Dr. Daniel Selove last week pointed out in autopsy photos marks on Hana’s legs consistent with being struck with a similar instrument.

The Williams girl cried as she recounted the last time she saw her adopted sister alive. Two Ethiopian women sitting in the courtroom broke down, too. Larry Williams removed his glasses and dabbed his eyes. Carri Williams, who has sobbed on and off throughout the trial, continued writing on a legal pad in front of her.

More biological Williams children might testify in the days ahead. Two sons have said through their attorneys they intend to assert their Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions on the stand, especially since their adopted brother testified one of them administered the same punishments as the parents had. Now, a deal could be in the works with the prosecutors to grant the boys a form of immunity for their testimony.

The adopted boy is set to return to the stand this afternoon.

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

2013 Aug 6