A quick update, with more details later:
Wes Richards, the Skagit County public defender representing Carri Williams, spent 3 hours this morning talking about jury instructions and his client’s innocence. Rosemary Kaholokula, the Skagit County prosecutor on behalf of Hana and Immanuel Williams, then spent about an hour in rebuttal of the closing arguments presented by the defense. With that, the case was turned over to the jury.
Fifteen people were originally selected for the jury. Three extra (beyond the 12) were included to ensure there were 12 jurors at the end of the trial, which was expected to last 4-6 weeks and is now in its 7th week. One juror was excused a couple of weeks ago because he kept falling asleep during the trial. Today, after the arguments ended, slips of paper with the jurors’ names were put into a little Bingo-like box and two names were drawn. Those jurors were excused from the deliberations, but remain under oath in case a juror currently deliberating becomes ill or otherwise needs to be removed.
No one knows how long the jury will deliberate. They have to look at three charges (homicide by abuse, manslaughter, assault of a child) against two people (Larry and Carri Williams), and consider each charge and each person separately. They also have to consider not just manslaughter and assault, but also “lesser includeds”–manslaughter in the 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree. Each has different standards.
Judge Cook also agreed to “dissolve” the No Contact ruling between Larry and Carri Williams. Larry will still remain in jail (he was out on bail but violated the no contact rule by sending a note to his children; Carri remains out on bail). The No Contact ruling between Larry and Carri, and between the parents and children, has been in effect for about 2 years. Now that testimony is over, concerns about any of the parties influencing each other or the process is over. Defense lawyers also asked that the No Contact order be dissolved between the parents and children as well, and it looks like that will happen–the notable exception being Immanuel.
Once the jury decides, the lawyers will have about a half hour to get to the court to hear the decision. I suggest anyone interested in up-to-the minute news follow the twitter account of Gina Cole, the Skagit Valley Herald reporter who’s been covering the trial since jury selection. Follow her at Gina_SVH, and #Williamstrial.
Also, follow Lee Stoll, the reporter at KIRO-TV (Channel 7) in Seattle, who will be at the trial until the verdict is announced. I was interviewed by Lee today, to give the perspective of an adoptive parent.
Gina and Lee have done a great job covering the trial. I’ve learned a lot about media (Gina is print, Lee is broadcast), and so much about the legal process.
My hope is that justice will be served for Hana and Immanuel. It’s in the hands of the jury now. May they take their responsibilities seriously, and deliver a thoughtful, fair verdict.
As a last note today, I was humbled to receive a note this morning from Cindy at Under Much Grace, Resources for Spiritual Recovery, who honored me with the title of “Great Mercy Woman,” for my coverage of the Williams’ trial. Hermana Linda of Why Not Train A Child, and Cathy Harris, a forensic nurse and foster mom, were also named. Linda has been very generous in mentioning my blog on her site, and, much more importantly, in speaking out against abuse of children by challenging the teachings of Michael and Debi Perl. Cathy Harris blogs at Once Lost Child, about her reality as a kidnapped child and a survivor of abuse. They are amazing, accomplished, courageous women, and I am very honored to be in their company.
Thank you very much, Cindy, for this lovely honor that means a great deal to me.
The Williams’ trial, as intense and tragic as it has been, has brought together various communities: adoptive parents, adoptees, deaf children and adults, survivors of abuse, survivors of domestic violence, and more. Regardless of the verdict, I hope some good comes from all the sorrow. I hope Hana is never forgotten. Let’s keep finding better ways to protect and care for children.