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Adopted Ethiopian girl Hana Williams found dead of hypothermia

The parents of adopted Ethiopian child Hana Williams were charged with homicide by abuse after the girl was found outside their Sedro-Woolley home in May 2011.

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MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Larry and Carri Williams learned Tuesday they will spend several decades behind bars for the repeated abuse and ultimate death of their adopted daughter Hanna.

Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook gave the couple the maximum penalty for the crimes. Larry will serve more than 27 years for first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault for the repeated beating of Hana’s older brother. Carri will serve more than 37 years for homicide by abuse, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault.

WilliamsCook said she was often baffled by the facts of the case.

“I don’t think I’m alone when I say I am left without the ability to comprehend,” Cook said. “I think at one time or another during this trial each and every one of us sat stunned and speechless.”

Kathryn Bach was one of the jurors who handed down the verdict in September. She said she was glad the two were handed long sentences.

“It made me sick,” Bach said. “I was sick to my stomach. I prayed a lot. I prayed any way through this whole thing.”

Hana’s brother is now being raised elsewhere and is doing better. The boy suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

hanawilliams

Hana Williams

The state said the couple repeatedly beat Hana and her younger brother with a hose and other household items. The two adopted kids were forced to eat soggy sandwiches and frozen vegetables or go hungry. Hana was often locked in a small, dark closet. On the night of her death, the teen was kicked out of her Sedro-Woolley home during a cold, rainy night until she collapsed and died several hours later.

“It was abuse,” Skagit County prosecutor Rich Weyrich said. “Torture was one of the things they had to find in the homicide by abuse and assault of a child in the first-degree.”

Larry is expected to contest his guilt, saying it was largely his wife who abused their children while he was at work.

Williams

Carrie Williams

SEDRO- WOOLLEY –A Skagit County couple were sentenced to decades in prison Tuesday for their roles in the death of their adopted daughter.

Larry and Carri Williams were convicted of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault for the death of 15 year-old Hana Williams and the beating of her young brother. Carri was also convicted of homicide by abuse.

Carrie was sentenced to 36 years in prison. Her husband was sentenced to nearly 28 years in prison. Larry plans to appeal his conviction, saying it was his wife who was the primary abuser, and he knew little while at work.

Hana died outside the Williams’ Sedro-Woolley home after she was left in the cold without food as punishment, and often starved and neglected in her time in the Williams’ home.

The couple adopted Hana from Ethopia.

We’ll have more on this story and a statement from family members on Q13 FOX News at 4 and 5 p.m.

SEATTLE — Carri Williams was found guilty of homicidal abuse of a child and first-degree assault of a child in the death of her adopted daughter, Hana. Carri’s husband, Larry Williams, was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and assault of a child; he was not convicted of homicide in Hannah’s death because the jury could not reach a verdict on that charge.

The two were charged after the Hana’s body was discovered May 2011 in the Williams’ Sedro-Wooley backyard. The coroner said she died of malnutrition and hypothermia and authorities contend she had been beaten and starved.

Hana was adopted by the Williams’ from Ethopia and she was believed to be 13 years old when she died. Due to the abuse she suffered, there was some difficulty in determining her actual age.

The defendants each had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

HANAWILLIAMS

hanaSEDRO-WOOLLEY — The body of a girl who prosecutors say died from abuse must be exhumed before the homicide trial of her adoptive parents can take place.

Skagit County sheriff’s deputies found the body of Hana Williams outside of her Sedro-Woolley home in May 2011. She had died of hypothermia, complicated by malnutrition, the coroner’s office said.

On Wednesday, a judge said Hana’s body must be removed and reexamined.

At the same time, prosecutors brought more charges against Hana’s adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams. Now the couple faces manslaughter charges, on top of first-degree assault and homicide by abuse.

Homicide by abuse is only a possible charge if the child was under 16. The defense argues that Hana might have been older than the 13 years originally thought when she died.

Hana, a native of Ethiopia, was adopted by the couple in 2008.

In court documents, prosecutors said the family never treated her or another adopted child like the rest of the family. The night Hana died, prosecutors contend, Carri Williams forced Hana outside and would not let her back in.

Carri Williams contends Hana refused to return inside and stayed outside voluntarily. Deputies found Hana’s lifeless body outside later that night. The coroner determined Hana died from hypothermia and said evidence pointed to other abuse, prompting the prosecution to file charges against the couple.

Prosecuting attorney Rich Weyrich said, “They were isolated. Hana was placed in a small room for fairly long periods of time, not given enough food or given food like leftovers, made to eat outside.”

Prosecutors also say there was evidence that Hana and her adopted brother were beaten on multiple occasions with belts and plumbing equipment.

The Skagit County Coroner’s Office said that after Hana’s body is exhumed, it could take a week to determine her age at the time of her death.

Hana Williams

MOUNT VERNON — Larry and Carri Williams pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from the death last year of their adopted daughter, Hana Williams, who died of hypothermia outside of the family’s Sedro-Woolley’s home.

According to goskagit.com, the Skagit County judge also granted the prosecution’s request to exhume Hana’s body to confirm her age at the time of her death. Adopted from Ethiopia, Hana was believed to have been 13 when she died in May 2011.

Her age could affect one of the charges against the couple, however, as homicide by abuse only applies to victims under 16.

A charge of first-degree manslaughter by domestic violence was also filed against the couple Wednesday, goskagit.com said.

To read the full article at goskagit.com, click here.

According to court documents, Hana was allegedly forced to live in a closet, denied meals for days at a time and forced to use a Port-a-Potty. Court documents also said her and other children were beaten by the couple with a plumbing tool as a form of punishment.

When emergency crews got to the house the night Hana died, they found she had a “large lump on her head and several fresh, red, bloody markings on her hips, knees, elbows and face. The back of her legs and thighs had bruised or scarred markings,” court documents stated.

The coroner ruled the cause of death was “hypothermia and chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.”

The couple’s seven other children were put in foster care after Hana’s death.

SEATTLE — A report on abused adopted children has concluded that, for the most part, adoptive families in Washington state provide nurturing, loving homes. But the study also said there are problems that need to be addressed.

The study, Severe Abuse of Adopted Children Committee, was sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire. It concluded there is inadequate oversight of adopted children and not enough education and licensing of private adoptive services.

The committee was appointed after a series of horrible cases of abuse, neglect — even death — of adopted children in the state.  Members found the adoption system lacks sufficient safeguards to protect children from potentially dangerous homes.

The committee looked at more than a dozen cases, including that of 13-year-old Hana Williams, who was adopted from Ethiopia and who froze to death last year outside her Sedro-Woolley home.  Investigators found her adoptive parents left her outside as punishment.

“While there are common elements, each of these (abuse) cases is unique and we are not able to identify a single factor or factors in the adoption process that would have protected these children from harm,” the report says. “By reviewing these cases however, we learned of areas in our adoption process that could be strengthened to protect children from risk, such as:

“Requiring individuals conducting adoption home studies to have adequate education, training or licensing requirements;

“Requiring adoption home studies and post-placement reports to include full information, objectivity and a critical assessment of the adoptive family;

“Requiring prospective adoptive parents to have adequate education, training and preparation to adopt a child;

“Strengthening regulations governing licensed adoption agencies to increase the state’s ability to monitor the performance of child placing agencies;

“Improving supports and services that will strengthen adoptive families.”

In the report’s opening letter to Gregoire, the committee said, “While cases of severe abuse and neglect of adopted children are not unique to Washington state, our state is in the forefront of efforts to strengthen the adoption process to address this issue.”

Mary Meinig, of the Office of the Family & Children’s Ombudsman who co-authored that letter and the report, said in an interview Tuesday, “All of these kids are our responsibility, when we know of them and when we can intervene to help them.

“We need to do better, especially maybe with private agencies and communities, to help link up those families with resources in the community,” she said.

Cathy and Terry Anderson are proud parents of two 11-year-old boys they adopted from Russia, Ethan and Joel, but said the adoptions didn’t come without challenges, especially since one boy only spoke Russian.

“He would melt down for no reason, and cry for an hour and cry in the grocery store,” Terry Anderson said Tuesday, “and we wouldn`t know why. But he would sit there and he would cry, and that was difficult. When you love your child and you don`t know what`s causing the pain, where do you turn?”

The Andersons said if it weren`t for post-adoption support from the adoption agency, they wouldn’t have known what to do.

The report only offers recommendations to fix the system, but clearly indicates that better training, supervision and adoptive families follow-up will help.

Meinig said there were about 1,862 state adoptions in 2011, but she added there are no numbers for private adoptions because the state does not track those.

“In order to implement the majority of these recommendations, it is essential that CA (state’s Children’s Administration) develop a detailed work plan, approved by the assistant secretary, identifying a strategy to carry out these reforms,” the report says.

The authors said “many” of the recommendations can be made through the CA department’s rule-making authority, but that other recommendations, such as addressing minimum qualifications for individuals conducting home studies and post placement reports, may require amending state law.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — A Skagit County couple is behind bars after being charged with murdering one of their adopted children and brutally assaulting the other.

On May 12, 13-year-old Hana Williams died of hypothermia after she was found unconscious in the backyard of the family’s Sedro-Woolley home.

The charges against the couple have been a long time coming, but prosecutors said they wanted to make sure they had a solid case before they brought charges.

Larry and Carri Williams were each charged with one count of murder by abuse for the death of Hana and one count of first-degree assault of a child for a pattern of assault against their 10-year-old adopted son which, according to court documents, caused physical pain or agony that was equivalent to that produced by torture.

Court documents paint a picture of a horrific existence for the two children adopted from Ethiopia.

The girl was allegedly forced to live in a closet, denied meals for days at a time and forced to use a Port-a-Potty. Court documents also said the children were beaten with a plumbing tool as a form of punishment.

When emergency crews got to the house the night Hana died, they found she had a “large lump on her head and several fresh, red, bloody markings on her hips, knees, elbows and face. The back of her legs and thighs had bruised or scarred markings,” court documents stated.

The coroner ruled the cause of death was “hypothermia and chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.”

The couple’s seven other children were put in foster care after Hana’s death.

Bail for the couple has been set at $500,000 each. The Williams’ will be arragined Thursday, Oct. 6 at 9 a.m.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — State and local authorities have released new information about the sudden death of a 13-year-old girl adopted from Ethiopia by a Sedro-Woolley family.

The teenager, Hana, and her brother came to the Skagit Valley in 2008 to live with Larry and Cindy Williams and their seven biological children.

“With any kind of case like this, it’s sad and tragic,” said Patty Turner, area administrator of the Department of Social and Human Services. “I would classify this case, the same — very tragic.”

Neighbors said that Larry, a Boeing engineer, and his wife were private and homeschooled all nine children.

“They were cheerful, playful,” a neighbor said. “They appeared to be well-cared for.”

Hana and her brother had been living in the secluded home since 2008.

On May 12, the coroner contacted Turner to report that Hana was dead. The coroner reported concerns about sudden weight loss and hypothermia.

“I can share with you in general, there were concerns about weight loss, and the coroner was concerned about hypothermia,” Turner said.

Department representatives conducted interviews with the children the day they were notified of Hana’s death. The Williams insisted they be present for all interviews with the surviving children.

Investigators returned two weeks later and sometime after that all the children were removed from the home.

The Skagit Valley Sheriff’s Office has an investigation underway.

“There are all kinds of reasons a judge agrees children need to be removed,” Turner said. “Allegations of abuse or neglect, a standard that children are at imminent risk of harm, if [they are] not removed from the home,” Turner said.

The eight remaining children have been placed in foster care. Q13 FOX News made an effort to contact the lead sergeant on the case, but he has not returned calls.

Turner said the children could be reunited with their parents, depending on the outcome of the police investigation and the circumstances surrounding Hana’s death.

Turner said the department’s goal is for reunification with the parents, when it is deemed appropriate. In some cases, parents agree to use some services and move toward reunification. At this point, Turner said she does not know what the Williams have decided.

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