August 30: Wrap Up of Carri Williams’ Testimony

I covered about half of yesterday’s testimony here.

Here are the highlights of the rest of the final testimony of the trial of Larry and Carri Williams for the death of Hana Williams and the assault of Immanuel Williams.

Carri was cross-examined by the prosecuting attorney Rosemary Kaholokula.

About Hana’s weight loss, and family photos of Hana: Hana had gradually lost weight over a year, Carri said. Photos were shown to Carri and then on a big screen of Hana’s 12th birthday party in July 2009. Hana had been in Washington State for about a year at that point; she had gained weight since her arrival. In a Christmas 2009 photo, Hana appeared to have gained more weight, and her hair was in braids.

In a photo dated December 2009, Hana is in profile, with braided hair. Behind her, the prosecutor pointed out there was a sign taped to the wall with the quotation, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he was old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Carri dismissed this as being unimportant, and said there were lots of things up on the walls. (To Train Up A Child is a controversial book on child-raising by Michael and Debi Pearl; a copy of the book was found in the Williams’ home.)

It was, Carri agreed, sometime in 2010 that things started going sour with Hana, in terms of her behavior. An August 2010 photo shows that Hana had lost some weight, Carri agreed. “She looks normal,” Carri said. Thinner than the previous year, perhaps.

A November 2010 photo shows Hana walking around the basketball court, some 6 months before she died. Another photo about 3 weeks before she died showed Hana with a shorn head. Carri said Larry had cut her hair (Maureen: it looked shaved to me). Carri said she gave Hana bandanas to wear, that matched her outfits. Hana’s hair had been shaved/cut off because she didn’t rinse the shampoo out well.

Ms. Kaholokula said: “That was probably really embarrassing for Hana,” to have her hair cut off. “Probably,” Carri agreed.

(I wrote about the hair-cutting and its significance in this blog post, Shorn Dignity: The Value of Hair.)

Carri’s conversations with her sons and with Larry: Carri asked her oldest son Joshua what he would do in regard to Hana if he were the parent. She was not seeking advice; she was just curious as to what he would do. Joshua said he didn’t know what he would do, according to Carri.

Carri and Larry rarely had disagreements. They did have occasional arguments or discussions, not disagreements, and they were related to Hana’s (and Immanuel’s) behavior, not related to the way Carri was dealing with her. At the conclusions of these discussions, Larry and Carri reached an understanding and agreement about how Hana would be treated, right up until Hana died.

The night Hana died: The attorney recapped previous testimony about the early part of the night, how Hana had been outside and then refused to come in despite Carri’s asking her multiple times.

Around 8pm, Carri accompanied Hana to the Port-A-Potty. On the way there, Hana repeatedly fell to the ground, “lunging,” then crawling a bit, then getting up. Hana had done this before, Carri said. “She said she did it on purpose,” and that’s why Carri didn’t take Hana to the doctor for it previously. “It was not a problem,” Carri said. “It was not new behavior.”

That night, Carri found it upsetting to see Hana doing this falling and crawling, across the gravel, the concrete, and the grass. So when they got back to the house, Carri went inside.

Carri was in tears during much of this discussion, as were people in the audience. The jury, as has been the case throughout the trial, all seemed fairly stoic.

Carri said she kept an eye out on Hana, though she was busy with other activities inside as well. She told Joshua to go outside and tell Hana to come in, and if not, to exercise, so she would keep warm, since it was cold and drizzly. She told him to give Hana 3 swats on her bottom if she didn’t come in or exercise. As far as Carri knew, that’s what he did, though she could only see them from about the chest up.

The same process went on with the other 2 brothers.

“I have no explanation about the marks on her legs,” said Carri, when she looked at photos from the autopsy that showed striated marks on the backs of Hana’s calves.

Carri then served Hana dinner: cold spaghetti. Hana would lift the fork up to her mouth, and then put it down again. Carri brought the plate inside after a while since Hana wasn’t eating.

Carri said that she repeatedly told Hana to come in, but she would not. “I couldn’t get her to come inside,” she wept.

At some point, Carri had brought dry clothes out to Hana, and told her to put them on. Hana had gotten wet from walking around outside, though she was also under a covered part of the patio, where the picnic table was.

Hana took a long time to change clothes. Carri sent Joshua out to take off Hana’s socks and shoes, since they’d gotten bloody from her earlier falling and lunging on the gravel and concrete. Joshua put gloves on (to protect himself from Hepatitis B, of which Hana was a carrier), and took off Hana’s socks and shoes. He disposed of the gloves in the house, where he brought in the socks and shoes. When he went out again, Hana had dropped her pants. Carri immediately told Joshua to come inside, so as not to see his sister’s body.

Carri continued monitoring Hana, she said, turning outside lights off to give her privacy to change, and turning them on to see how she was doing. Around midnight, daughter Cara looked out and said Hana was face down naked on the patio.

Carri ran out, and turned Hana over. She went back in, and grabbed a sheet to put over Hana, modesty being important to the family. Carri and Cara tried to carry Hana in. “Hana’s head flapped back,” Carri said through tears, and she was afraid Cara would drop her. “I believe she unintentionally killed herself,” Carri said. “I believe she did this to herself.”

Ms. Kaholokula asked Carri about her testimony the previous day, where Carri said she wished she could trade places with Hana.

“Did you wish you could trade places with her when she was in the shower room?”

“Did you wish you could trade places with her in the closet?”

Carri didn’t answer, just looked (glared) at the lawyer.

She did say, “I am crying for my daughter, not for myself.”

Mr Richards, one of Carri’s defense attorneys, then did some rebuttal, reviewing the adoption paperwork discussed earlier. Carri hadn’t delayed the post-placement report because she was hiding anything.

Carri had noticed Hana was losing weight, but was “not at all concerned.”

After Hana died, she had told the other children not to discuss spanking or homeschooling with the officers investigating the death. The parenting style and the homeschooling didn’t have anything to do with Hana’s death, she said, as the reason behind the instructions. She also told the children not to say that Hana slept other than the girls’ bedroom.

Of the autopsy photos, Carri said “Hana didn’t look at all the same after she died” as she had when she was alive. “She was dead. She looked different.” How did Carri feel about seeing Hana’s body in the photos? “Sad, that she was being disrespected in that way.”

Ms. Trueblood, one of Larry’s defense attorneys, then asked about the photos (There were lots more photos, Carri said; those were just a few). There was a brief discussion of the book To Train Up A Child, which again Carri said she had read it some 10 years ago, and didn’t follow it closely. She asked Carri to confirm that Hana’s weight loss was gradual, that most of the Williams’ children are thin, that the family engaged in lots of walks and exercise, and that the family did not have much junk food or sweets.

And so the weeks of testimony ended.

Next Wednesday, September 4, court resumes at 9am, with jury instructions and then closing arguments. Following that, the jury will begin deliberations.

Justice for Hana, justice for Immanuel.

20 thoughts on “August 30: Wrap Up of Carri Williams’ Testimony

  1. Pingback: Some Looks At The Williams | Why Not Train A Child?

  2. For a short time (~4 years), I parented like the Williams. In order to do that, I found I had to shut off more and more of my empathy and compassion as time went on. I was convinced all negative behavior from my children could be “fixed” if only I were consistent with punishments, and if I made the punishments severe enough that my children feared breaking rules.

    Fortunately, I had a friend who introduced me to gentle, grace-based parenting at a time when I was realizing that I was becoming a monster instead of a mother. I realized I was justifying real abuses, and I was damaging my children and our relationship.

    Not everyone practicing such strict, punitive parenting is willing or able to step back and objectively look at how their choices are negatively impacting their family.

    I believe Carri especially was in over her head in parenting Hana and Immanuel. That said, there is a huge difference between not knowing better and not wanting to know better. It’s pretty obvious to me Carri falls into the latter category.

  3. So heartbreaking!! Unbelievable, monster of a person that woman was, so despicable, no words, so so sad!! If only someone could have been there to comfort Hanna and show her true love and friendship. But they let these monsters adopt her and isolate her with the goal of turning her in to what they wanted, not letting her bloom in to what she could have become. She was so beautiful, love seeing her video where she is talking, so sweet. Praying for justice for hanna and Immanuel.

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

  5. I live in the area and keep temperature records. For the 11th I have pouring rain . I take low temps in the mornings and it was 42 degrees Thursday morning so low to mid 40’s would be accurate.
    I keep wondering how many times this child had been close to death already-all that stumbling around all the time.

    • I also wondered how many times Hana had been close to death prior to that evening, since Carri had said that falling down was not new behavior for her. I recall from my ski patrol days that when a person is suffering from hypothermia, their core has cooled down and it takes more than a cup of cocoa to reverse that. It takes the active introduction of warming.

      I can imagine that she had hunger pangs, headaches and felt overall yucky from using a port a potty and washing up with a garden hose and her legs buckled during previous exercise punishments. Then her sadistic brothers would run after her with the plumbing line and she would get up again.

      Kids are resilient and there is the basic instinct to survive but those last hours of abuse are all her body could take.

  6. Until recently in the trial, the temperature on that evening was 42 degrees; now they are saying it was in the 50’s. I think there is a big difference. 42 and raining is bitter cold.

  7. Maureen, I was puzzled about the glue sticks. I was thinking about the lipstick kind. Finally it dawned on me that they must be the sort that go into hot glue guns. They are about a foot long, 1/2″ or so across, rods of dry, hard, plastic glue. To be “switched” with one of these would definitely hurt. They would be like a whip.
    Best,
    JEB

    • There was discussion in the trial about glue sticks (had Carri gotten them from her mother? did she use them on all the kids?) but none (as far as I know) were shown to the jury. The plastic plumbing rod was shown several times. That may mean the police didn’t find any glue sticks in the home when they gathered up evidence (photos, the plumbing rod, books, etc.) or that they didn’t recognize them as being used for punishment, or that there weren’t any in the house. Just so sad, in any case.

  8. I think had this happened while the kids were asleep or not around they would have buried the body on the property. I’m sure this is what Carri and Larry would have originally done but they consulted the grandfather or the other people that are in law enforcement who told them to tell 911 since all the kids witnessed it. Hana was so emancipated and tortured, her spirit was so broken by these evil people and thier enablers. Carri still claimed Hana killed herself which in Carri and Larry’s mind meant that Hana went to hell since suicide is a sin in the bible. Also Carrie believes god will forgive her in the end, since that is what the bible says. Also her incarceration will be part of “Gods Plan” I would be planning the quickest most painless suicide right now if I were Carri in her final days of freedom. Larry knows he has already started his time so harder for him to find an easy way to take his life before they are host sent off to the adjustment units in the prison ward.

    • Being unceremoniously buried was the fate of similarly starved and abused kids. There are stories on homeschool’s invisible children and pound puppy legacy that are very similar in the starvation and being locked in rooms and beaten. The Williams could very well have gotten away with their story that Hana, the difficult teen,insisted on staying outside and not coming in the house and died of hypothermia. I haven’t seen a time line but it sounds like the remaining kids were not removed from the home and the parents were not arrested for months.

      Imagine how they would have terrorized Immanuel. Look what happens to disobedient children – they die.

    • I agree. He also seemed to realize the gravity of the situation when he told Cari to call 911 and also at the hospital. Amazingly her first call was not to 911. I don’t think he would be in this pickle if he had married a mainstream Christian woman. My prediction is that Carri gets convicted of all charges and Larry convicted of the child abuse charge. I think she will go away for life and he will get 10 years.

      • Carri takes no responsibility whatsoever. I also think she is lying. Her story that Hana would not come into the house does not ring true to me. Isn’t it the case that the children did not testify that they were trying to get Hana into the house. They only testified that she was punished for not exercising when she was getting cold.

      • Carol, I agree. Carri lied on the stand. She said that she was telling Hana to come in – but – if she didn’t choose to come in then she could keep exorcising while the three pervy sons beat her on her rear and legs, with sticks. If she was not in an advanced stage of hypothermia, and was really being asked to come in, I’m sure Hana would have welcomed her locked closet in the warm house.

        It’s possible there is a grain of truth in that Carri probably asked Hana to come in shortly before midnight, but at that point Hana was in an advanced state of Hypothermia and suffering from delirium and paradoxical undressing to cool down the freezing body she believed was now on fire.

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