This entry is the first part of today’s trial events. The big surprise was Larry Williams taking the stand, after his eldest son Joshua did. This blog post only discusses Joshua, but I will be updating it later today.
Joshua Williams, the oldest son of Larry and Carri Williams, testified this morning. He was smiling, seemingly confident and self-assured, yet with an edge of fragility revealed by the occasional catch in his voice and his eyes moving back and forth between the lawyer and his parents. He’s 19 or 20, in the US Army, stationed in Korea. In many ways, he looked and sounded quite young.
A bit of background: Yesterday, Larry’s attorney Rachel Forde argued vigorously for Joshua to testify, primarily (perhaps exclusively) about what his parents had argued about in terms of disciplinary approaches. There was a brief discussion around invocation of 5th amendment rights. The gist to me seemed to be that immunity would not need to be offered, and 5th amendment rights would not be invoked, because there would not be questions about whether Joshua participated in the discussion.
Prior to his testifying this morning, there were defense motions that the prosecution was not entitled to interview Joshua, because he had been in the Skagit County area and they had had ample time to do so. The prosecution made the point that the defense yesterday raised new questions: whether Joshua had witnessed his parents disagreeing about punishment The idea (yesterday) was to separate Larry and Carri as accomplices, and to place blame on one, and let the other one off. (Yes, the bus is being revved up, and someone’s going under it.)
Also this morning, prior to Joshua’s taking the stand, there were further lawyer-judge discussions. To preclude Joshua from taking the 5th amendment, which apparently was indeed a possibility, the prosecutors granted him use and derivative immunity. I can’t tell you just what those mean exactly (I’m so not a lawyer), but they were sufficient for him to testify without taking the 5th.
The agreement was that Joshua would testify mainly as to whether he had heard his parents argue over discipline and punishment of Hana and Immanuel. He confirmed that he had. He said he did not remember many details, such as whether the augments had much effect on the punishments.
Asked by the defense if Larry was the decider, the boss, in the family, Joshua said, with a smile, “Certainly.” Asked if his view of his father as the decider or boss changed, he said yes, but he wasn’t sure when. The prosecutor pressed him a bit, and his exterior crumbled just a bit, as he considered both how and when the “framework of authority broke down” in his family.
My guess is that having Joshua testify was a means of showing that Carri was the main deliverer of discipline, that Larry knew what was happening, and that there were concerns among even the children about how/whether the punishments of Hana and Immanuel were working. Carri, in any case, did not change her approach, and the trajectory of punishments increased.
As was true with all the Williams’ children, Joshua and his parents had not seen each other for some 2 years. Joshua may be shipping off for military service again before the trial ends, so won’t have any contact until after the trial ends. He does have to stay around a while longer with the possibility of additional testimony.
Larry Williams then took the stand. Interestingly, defense lawyer Rachel Forde moved way over to the right side of the room, next to the jury. Most of the time previously she had stood in the center, near the judge.
She began by asking Larry how he was feeling. He immediately got teary, and paused. “Responsible,” he said. “Ashamed.” Any regrets? “Lots.” What about? “Not intervening.”
Why responsible? “I’m the dad. My daughter died.”
Why ashamed? “There were lots of things I could have done to stop it, and I didn’t,” said Larry, choking up.
I will continue this blog later today.