August 30: The Last Day of Testimony

All testimony was competed today in the trial of Larry and Carri Williams. The jurors were excused at around 2:30, and told to report back next Wednesday, September 4, at 9am. Judge Susan Cook will give them instructions: what the charges are, what the jurors’ rights and responsibilities are as they deliberate. There will also be closing arguments by both the defense and the prosecution. No one knows how long the jury will take to decide on a verdict.

Today’s testimony began with Dr. Kathleen Taylor, a forensic anthropologist, who had previously provided testimony about Hana’s age, based on Dr. Taylor’s examination of Hana’s x-rays. She was called by the prosecution largely in response to yesterday’s testimony by defense witness Dr. Jordan Haber. Dr. Taylor estimated Hana’s age as between 13 and 17. She magnified the x-rays to see the details of the bones, the trochanter, and the epiphysis. “Magnifying doesn’t alter the image,” she said, in contrast to Dr. Haber’s position, which was that magnifying the images is not the way radiologists determine bone age. Why would you magnify an x-ray, asked the prosecutor. “To see in better detail what you’re looking at,” said Dr. Taylor.

Ms. Trueblood, the defense attorney, noted that Dr. Taylor is a Ph.D., and not a medical doctor nor a radiologist. There was brief discussion about the books that Taylor and Haber had consulted for their estimations.

The cross-examination of Carri Williams then began again. The prosecuting attorney Rosemary Kaholakula started by presenting Carri with multiple photos, asking if she recognized them. “That is my daughter Hana and my son Immanuel.” “That is my daughter Hana.”

Carri: “That is a photo of my beautiful children, whom you ripped apart.”

Attorney: “I didn’t. Hana died, in your back yard.”

Carri: “Hana passed away.”

Later, in questions about the night Hana died, Carri said “I believe she unintentionally killed herself,” and “I believe she did this to herself.”

During a break, the judge had to caution the spectators in the courtroom not to make any sounds, as there had been a fair amount of muffled sighs and crying, while Carri was testifying. Carri herself wept several times.

Recaps:

Larry had suggested the Port-A-Potty and Carri agreed. Hana was the only one who used it, until she died, and it is still outside the barn for use by others. They thought she would only use it for a day or two.

At first, Hana was quiet, polite, very bright, and not completely cooperative, according to Carri. After about a year and a half after she arrived in Washington State, Hana’s “real personality came out,” the rebellious nature she’d apparently been hiding until then. Carri did not seek any help from the adoption agency or from any professionals for this rebelliousness.

The outdoor shower was not, Carri said, called an outdoor shower. It was a piece of wood over which the garden hose could be placed. Larry dug the hole for the post. (Larry testified he’d had nothing to do with it.) Hana took quick showers, Carri noted: “4 minutes.” Was the water cold outside? “Yes.”

About not going to the doctor after 2009: “Hana was the healthiest of my children,” said Carri. There was no need to go to a doctor.

About Immanuel’s behavioral problems: Carri said Immanuel failed to say thank you “properly” at the table, didn’t respond to stomping that was meant to get his attention, and changed a correct math answer to a wrong one. Of his wetting himself, she said he did it on purpose: he told her that. She didn’t take him to a doctor because it wasn’t a medical problem.

About Hana’s behavioral problems: She lied and stole. She didn’t steal just any food, Carri said. She stole junk food: sweets. She also wrote capital letters in the middle of words, and didn’t stand or sit exactly where she was told.

Hana was locked in the shower room and other places to keep her from stealing junk food, which Carri said she was “hoarding and gorging.” (Maureen: This is not at all unusual behavior of children who have been institutionalized, or otherwise had food limited. It made me wonder—yet again—how much Carri understood about the behaviors of internationally adopted children. There are lots of strategies for dealing with this sort of behavior, none of which involve locking a child in a closet.)

There is, as always, more to say. And I will do so, tomorrow. I am sure Gina Cole of the Skagit Valley Herald will post an update tonight, and KIRO-TV has been updating every day as well. I have very limited Internet where I am right now, so will post this, and then post more tomorrow.

Many thanks to all those of you who have offered kind words and gratitude to me for my posts. We are all here for Hana, in our own ways.

Justice for Hana, justice for Immanuel.

17 thoughts on “August 30: The Last Day of Testimony

  1. Pingback: Romanticizing Adoption Is a Disservice to Children and Families | Light of Day Stories

  2. I want to thank you again, too…for continuing to witness and report on this trial. I know many more are reading and paying attention, even though they may not comment.

    Although it was difficult to watch and read about, I am glad she took the stand, because her utter selfishness and lack of credibilty was evident. It was clear she was lying because of the contradictions. Even people who lack intelligence and/or common sense know to get help when a child is struggling. Even if Carri was telling the truth when she said her kids didn’t need ‘help’ or to go to the doctor, Hana ‘throwing’ herself all over the cement to the point of bloodying herself while Carri left her to do so (supposedly because “it wasn’t new behavior for her” ) is such a far-fetched scenario to imagine. Anyone with an ounce of sense or caring would know to call someone for help before things got to this point.

    I’ll be anxiously-waiting the verdict. I’m worried about the more serious charge sticking due to the confusion the jury probably has over Hana’s true age. I hope and pray they have close to life in prison. These people are not sorry. They’re not horrified at what they’ve done and they’re not remorseful. They have allowed their children to be traumatized by having to testify at this trial, when they could have done the correct thing and pleaded guilty.

    However, I’m not the one handing down the verdict or the punishment. So, I’ll just pray that there is proper justice for these two children.

    • If I were on the Jury, I wouldn’t have a problem with the homicide by Abuse charge and her age. Hana’s recognized age was 13, and short of a date stamped Ethiopian birth record, I would not believe she was age 16 or older. The most compelling age testimony was the doctor who had volunteered in the orphanage.

      Whatever she is convicted of, I think the judge will give her the maximum. Cari shows that she resents and despises the victim, even in death, for what the victim did to her lovely family. I think Larry will get off a little easier because he seems to recognize that they are responsible for the death. The doctors at the hospital said that he cried but Carri was completely unfazed.

  3. THANK YOU, Maureen, for representing all of us in the court room and sharing in such detail the happenings of each day. Praying and hoping for justice for Hana and Emmanuel. May the jury see the truth that seems so evident to all of us.

  4. Maureen- you may have addressed this earlier- but why is only Larry in jail currently? Why is Carri out of jail? Also, very early on in this case, there was a police report that was made public. The police interviewed all of the kids. I just thought you would be interested in seeing this, in case you turn this into a book! I recall reading the original transcript and was horrified at the discipline techniques the children reported.

  5. There must have been audible gasps in the audience when Carri blamed Hana for her own death. I wish Larry and Carri had been asked if they had discussed what would happen to the kids locked in the closets over night in the event of a fire.

    Claiming that Hana was the healthiest of the children was just plain silly. The boys that testified did have a pale sickly look but I think that was just their look.

  6. Pingback: Williams Trial – Day 25: Testimony of Carri Williams (3rd Day) | Why Not Train A Child?

  7. Yes justice for Hana and Immanuel. I too feel that Carri was her own worst enemy in court. I wonder if it was her choice to testify. I kept thinking to myself today, she just doesn’t get it, those poor children.
    Thanks again for your updates.

  8. She shouldn’t have ever taken the stand. The defense did a poor lackluster job which all makes it more the better. There was so much the defense could have done to put her in a different light but didn’t and I am so glad. Carri will never admit to anything and blames everyone but herself and then in the end she feels god will forgive her anyway. That’s why this jury really needs to do life. It should be the strictest punishment to get the word out that adoption abuse will not be tolerated even in mildest forms as well as the dangers of homeschooling and fundamentalist Christianity.

    • I wonder why they did put her on the stand. From my crime show watching, I’ve learned that it is a move of desperation. You can carefully coach and script your examination of the defendant but then all hell breaks loose when the prosecution gets a crack at it.

    • Umm homeschooling had nothing to do with this! There is plenty of abusive parents who end their children to public school… Should we outlaw ps?

      • Homeschooling played a significant role in this child’s death. Hana starved to death,had a shaved head and cuts and bruises all over her body. Hana was isolated and came into no contact with any adults or children other than her abusers. If she had gone to public, or private school, she would have come into contact with mandatory reporters who would have noticed her wasting away, her shaved head and the bruises. She also would have been able to talk to counselors and compassionate teachers about her home life. She may have also had at least two decent meals a day at a public school, as they provide breakfast and lunch. When a kid forgets his lunch or opens up the lunchbox and finds a wet sandwich, friends will offer up a thing or two from their own lunch boxes.

        Your logic is faulty. I agree that not all homeschooling families are abusive, however abuse is easily hidden in homeschooling families.

        Also, the woman had a total of nine children. By her own admission, she was at her wits end with Hana’s “behavior”. Carri desperately needed a few hours to herself to regroup and lord know those kids could have benefited with many hours away from that sociopath. Overwhelmed parents, are more likely to abuse.

      • What I am saying is that this is a horrible and hideous crime, it is disenginueous to put the blame anywhere but where it belongs. This woman is responsible for what she did, not the entirety of the Christian faith, or homeschooling, or adoption, or the state of Washington, or a book, or her neighbors, she is responsible. Making a blanket statement about entire groups of people and this one, rare, incident is not right.

      • I disagree. It’s too late for Hana but the question everyone should be asking is how did it happen. I don’t think Carri had to be a monster if she had taken a different path. She was following the dangerous formula in a book. The advice boils down to the need to break the will of the child using beatings, denial of food and hosing down outside. All in the book. The book also advises that if those techniques don’t appear to be working then double down. Do it more often, continuously and with more intensity. Carri was too lazy and stubborn to do some research on what people in the field of child development think about these techniques. There is now quite a collection of child deaths that can be linked to that book.

        The state of Washington needs to look at their adoption policies. Why did they let them take on two unrelated kids before seeing how it went with just one to start. Did anyone prepare them for the adoption and why was there no follow up to check on how it was going. They already had seven bio kids. What are the challenges of adding adopted kids who will be older than the bio kids.

        Their extreme legalistic religious views were also a factor. When you can’t see the humanity of a person and the crisis of someone in need of medical help because someone is naked then something has gone off the rails.

        Homeschooling was a factor because of the isolation.

        As they say, it was a confluence of factors. A toxic mix of factors that caused a tragedy.

  9. Thank you for being in the court room day in and day out. As an adoption professional I am watching this case closely. I am in shock hearing about the horrific events that transpired for Hana and Immanuel. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and telling us about the events of the day. Thank you- Myriam

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