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Larry Williams: I’m ‘ashamed’


Larry Williams: I’m ‘ashamed’

Scott Terrell
Larry Williams pauses while testifying Tuesday morning before answering a question about the birth of his youngest daughter. Larry Williams and his wife Carri Williams are accused of homicide by abuse and first degree-manslaughter in the death of their adopted daughter Hanna and first-degree assault of their adopted son in Skagit County Superior Court in Mount Vernon, Wash.

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 1:10 pm | Updated: 6:02 pm, Tue Aug 27, 2013.

by Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — Larry Williams said this morning that he felt “responsible” and “ashamed” after five weeks of hearing people testify about allegations he and his wife abused their adopted children.

Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana Williams, who collapsed in the family’s backyard in May 2011 and died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition. They also are charged with first-degree assault of a child in connection with alleged abuse of their adopted son.

They each have pleaded not guilty.

Larry Williams said he regrets not intervening.

“I’m the dad. My daughter died,” he said. “… Possibly I could have done something to stop it, but I didn’t.”

This morning was the first time either defendant took the stand. Larry Williams’ attorney Rachel Forde walked him through his childhood, moving around with his parents, his time in the Air Force and meeting his future wife at church.

“I thought, ‘This girl has really got something. She’s got a heart for others,’” he said with a smile, recalling his first conversation with Carri, when he learned she was training to be a sign-language interpreter.

The couple had seven biological children before adopting two more from Ethiopia. Their plan was to just adopt their son because he is deaf, but Hana caught their eye on a DVD the adoption agency sent them.

“When we saw the other children, we saw Hana and our heart went out to her,” he said.

As the two settled into the Williams home and behavior problems emerged, the Williamses employed the same descipline tactic they used on their other children: spanking with a piece of plastic plumbing line they called a switch.

Larry Williams said he usually spanked his adopted son on his bottom, and only once spanked him on his feet, at Carri Williams’ suggestion.

“I couldn’t do it again,” he said. “Just the one time, because I didn’t think it was appropriate.”

On the first day of testimony a month ago, the adopted boy told the jury about repeated beatings on the bottoms of his feet administered by his parents and older siblings. A military torture expert who testified later counted that experience toward his conclusion the adopted Williams children were tortured.

The boy also has testified Larry Williams hit him on his head with a wooden implement so hard that he bled. Larry Williams denied that today, saying he never spanked the boy on his head — just used the switch on his head lightly to get his attention.

Larry Williams admitted to using a belt on the boy two or three times, but said he stopped after that because he thought the boy was too young for that punishment. He said he never used the buckle end, instead folding the belt in half with the ends in his hands.

Larry Williams’ testimony continues this afternoon.

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

2013 Aug 27