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Hana Williams was at least 15, another expert testifies


Hana Williams was at least 15, another expert testifies

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 1:30 pm

by Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — Hana Williams was likely at least 15 when she died, a radiologist who examined x-rays of her body testified this morning.

Hana died in May 2011 of hypothermia, hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition, after collapsing in her family’s Sedro-Woolley-area backyard. Her parents, Larry and Carri Williams, are now charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in her death.

Hana’s age is crucial to the case because the charge of homicide by abuse applies only if she was younger than 16 when she died. Her adoption paperwork indicates she would have been 13 at the time, but her parents have said they thought she was older.

Various experts who examined her body have not been able to definitively place her age, instead giving ranges that span both sides of 16.

Dr. Jordan Haber, a New York-based radiologist called to the stand by Carri Williams’ lawyers, said Hana was probably between 15 and 17.

Haber looked at x-rays of Hana’s hand, wrist and hips. Her hands and wrists look like those of a 15-year-old, while her hips indicate she could have been 16, he said.

“I couldn’t exclude 16,” he told Rachel Forde, one of Larry Williams’ lawyers. “I would feel uncomfortable saying she’s 16. I feel comfortable saying she’s 15 or older.”

Carri Williams’ lawyer, Wes Richards, gave Haber the girl’s death date and the date she was x-rayed, and told her she “was born and raised in Ethiopia.” He said he had no other information about the case when he studied her bones.

“I had no interest in putting the patient at any one particular age,” he said.

Malnutrition can stunt bone growth, making bones look younger than they are, Haber said.

The Williamses also are charged with first-degree assault of their younger son, who they adopted at the same time as Hana.

Haber also examined x-rays of the boy, placing his age at about 11 years. He must have been younger than 13 for the charge of first-degree assault of a child to apply. Lawyers on both sides have spent much less time debating the boy’s age than debating Hana’s.

Haber said he saw no broken or fractured bones in either child.

The radiologist’s testimony continues this afternoon. Carri Williams, who first took the stand Wednesday, also needs to finish testifying.

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

2013 Aug 29