August 1: Update on the Williamses’ Trial

Yesterday August 1, testimony began with Immanuel. The same arrangement of 3 certified interpreters was used. Immanuel is allowed to testify for no more than 2 1/2 hours a day, and not on consecutive days. I don’t know when he will next be in court. He was questioned by the prosecutor (he’s a prosecution witness) for the whole 2 1/2 hours today, with breaks.

The bulk of his testimony consisted of his descriptions of where he slept (a bed in the boys’ bedroom, on the floor in the boys’ bedroom, and in the shower room. Immanuel has or had enuresis, trouble with ability to control urination. Based on his testimony, it seems like the Williamses were constantly checking his underwear to see if he had wet himself, day or night. That pressure could make a little boy pee a lot, or surely be more nervous about peeing, and thus–pee a lot. If his pants were wet, he would be showered in cold water, sometimes inside the shower room and sometimes outside with the garden hose. He said he would be hosed down by Larry, Carri, or the 3 older boys: Joshua, Jacob, and Joseph.

The “shower room” was a room in the house with a shower and tub. It had a door that locked from the outside. If Immanuel wet the bed, he’s have to sleep in the tub in the shower room, where he’s be locked in. Yes, locked in a room with no toilet. He said it happened many, many times.

Immanuel said if he was asleep in the tub, Larry would check him when he came home from work, sometime after midnight, and turn the shower on him if he was wet.

Immanuel testified that Hana was also hosed down by the same 5 people, and that none of the other children were treated this way.

Immanuel also testified about meals and food. Apparently, one of Carri’s rules was that Immanuel had to say thank you before he got food, and sometimes he wouldn’t. so he wouldn’t get food. He and Hana were often forced to eat outside, all year round. The food was often cold, sometimes frozen–hard to eat, said Immanuel. Sandwiches were served wet. He was, he said, often hungry.

Immanuel testified about where Hana slept. She started off in the girls’ bedroom, but later slept in the shower room (not at the same time as Immanuel) and in what he called a “storage room with boxes,” which may have been a sign interpretation of a closet. Further testimony was about this closet and its location in what Immanuel called the music room. Immanuel said Hana would be in the closet all night, sometimes during the day. The closet, like the shower room, was locked from the outside; lights were controlled on the outside as well.

Sometimes, Immanuel said, Hana would sleep alone in the barn, about 80 feet from the house. He said that there was a little bathroom out there, where you could sit. It didn’t flush, but had toilet paper. He was describing the port-a-potty that the Williamses set up for Hana.

The final part of Immanuel’s testimony was about how the family communicated with Immanuel. Carri and the children knew sign language. Immanuel said that at Carri’s birthday party (not sure when that was), Carri told the children not to use sign language with Immanuel anymore. He couldn’t remember how long that lasted, but said it was a long time. To get his attention, they’d stomp on the floor. That would work, he said, depending on what part of the house they were in and he was in. Sometimes, he said, he didn’t respond fast enough because they were too far away from him and he didn’t feel the vibrations.

All of that testimony goes to the prosecution’s contention that Hana and Immanuel were isolated from the other children, a form of abuse/torture.

I want to say how much I admire the excellence and professionalism of the court interpreters. What a tough role for them. Many hearts ache for Immanuel. The special poignancy of a deaf child being isolated and humiliated had to affect them in a unique way.

In the afternoon, there was much discussion about the 5th amendment rights of the older Williams’ sons. Apparently they are concerned about their own liability: whether they could be charged for crimes against Immanuel, since he has testified that they beat him on his feet. The question of whether they did so with or without the permission of their parents also affects Larry and Carri–if they had permission, they implicate their parents. If they didn’t, they implicate themselves. My understanding is that, at this point, the boys won’t testify, but that could change.

In the afternoon, there were 2 witnesses called who knew Carri. One was Donna Lenderman, at whose house Carri and the children once visited and had dinner. Hana was dressed in some kind of wrap and didn’t play with the other children.

The other was Beverly Davies, who had met Carri at the knitting group. They had a couple of conversations about Carri’s children, including Hana and Immanuel. Ms. Davies said that Carri told her Hana was very rebellious and wouldn’t obey the rules. Carri told her that Hana was a liar and would steal, and that Carri couldn’t leave Hana alone in the house, and that they had tried counseling but it hadn’t worked. Carri told Ms. Davies that Hana’s body was developing, that Hana had gotten her period and refused to wear pads, rubbing the pads on the walls, and that Immanuel followed Hana’s lead in not eating the food put before them.

Ms. Davies also said that Carri said she was kicking Hana out as soon as she turned 18, that it wouldn’t be Carri’s problem what then happened to Hana.

To me, that suggests why Larry and Carri wanted Hana to be older than she was–there would be less time before they could legally cut Hana off. I’m struck (once again) by how much could have been done differently–there are so many resources (respite care, therapies, behavior modifications, incentives, etc.) that this family could have used to alleviate the problems.

The final witness was John Hutson, a lawyer and retired US Navy admiral who was dean of the University of New Hampshire Law School. He was called by the prosecution as an expert about torture and interrogation techniques. He has testified many times before Congress and elsewhere; the prosecutor spent much time reviewing Mr. Hutson’s credentials.

The defense attorney, Ms. Forde, then spent much time questioning Mr. Hutson’s credentials: not certified as an expert, no academic research published, never a consultant on a criminal case, not an expert on Washington state law. The judge reviewed Mr. Hutson’s resume and said he can in fact testify.

Court resumes at 9am Friday morning, August 2.

5 thoughts on “August 1: Update on the Williamses’ Trial

  1. Pingback: Hana Grace Williams Trial

  2. This is hard to read. I’m struggling to grasp the worldview, the underlying notions of what parenting is, that might cause apparently sane people to even think up these punishments. Thank you for making it real/present for all of us.

  3. Thank you for continuing to report on this trial daily. I know it’s breaking your heart, but you are doing so much good in the world just by making the truth known here. You are extremely appreciatied.

  4. Indeed, the whole mess is heartbreaking. I still can’t get over the feet beating. Did the older boys beat the children’s feet too? Pray tell, what does that do to one’s heart and soul? I can see why they’d rather not take the witness stand.

    I’m glad Larry’s been locked up for several months already.

  5. Pingback: Williams Trial – Day 9: Second Day of Immanuel’s Testimony | Why Not Train A Child?

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