Skagit County couple receives long sentences in fatal abuse case

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

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MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - A Skagit County couple convicted of beating, starving and freezing their adopted daughter to death has learned their fates.

Larry and Carri Williams were convicted this summer of killing their adopted daughter, Hana, and assaulting their adopted son, Immanuel, in the name of discipline.

Hana froze and starved to death outside the Williams' Sedro-Woolley home 2 1/2 years ago.

Prosecutors recommended at least 14 years for Larry Williams, but his attorney asked for a short 5-year sentence.

She argued that Larry Williams was away at work and didn't know what was happening, while Carri -- a stay-at-home mother, horribly abused the adopted children.

"She was the primary actor, in all of the treatment of Hana and Immanuel," said Larry Williams' attorney, Rachel Forde, during the trial.

But the judge did not agree, giving him an exceptionally high sentence of 27.75 years.

Carri Williams, who had the added conviction of homicide by abuse, was sentenced to the maximum of 37 years.
The Williams couple plan to appeal.

For the first time, the Williams faced a packed courtroom dressed in jail jumpsuits. Members of Seattle's Ethiopian Community were in the crowd — many were there for the 7 1/2-week trial, listening to how the parents beat and starved their adopted children, Hana and Immanuel.

"You suffered in isolation where no one could hear your cry for help," said Elsabet Legesse, who read a note she wrote to Hana.

In two years, Hana lost 30 pounds. She collapsed and died outside the family's Sedro-Wooley home.

Immanuel, who is deaf, testified the pair was fed frozen food, slept in closets and showered outside— treatment the Williams never gave their own seven children.

"You have to wonder how will these kids turn out? One of the children put it best when he said 'I'm just confused,'" said prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula.

The couple refused to speak, leaving friends to argue the parents are not monsters, just misguided.

"They were in over their heads and they didn't seek outside help," said Carri's attorney Laura Riquelme.

Judge Susan Cook says the pair's legacy of abuse and death left her speechless.

"What I see is one child dead, one child with PTSD and seven biological children who apparently believe that degrading, dehumanizing and cruel behavior of another person is completely acceptable," said  Cook.

Katherine Bach, a juror on the panel that convicted the pair, expected nothing less.

"I feel justice has been served. I hope it never ever happens again," said Bach.

 

Previous KIRO 7 coverage of the Williams trial

Aug. 1: Jurors see before and after photos of starved girl

Aug. 2: Witness: Adopted children were 'tortured'

Aug. 5: Kids testify in parents' murder and abuse trial

Aug. 6: Jurors hear shocking details in child murder trial

Aug. 7: Boy testifies, says parents spanked adopted brother, sister more

Aug. 8: Adopted boy snaps on the stand

Aug. 9: Murder charge may be thrown out because of adopted girl's age

Aug. 12: Dead girl's cousin testifies, then disappears

Aug. 13: Defense: Immanuel getting treats to lie about Williams abuse

Aug. 14: Juror dismissed for sleeping during trial

Aug. 15: Teen takes stand 

Aug. 16: Williams’ sons carried dead sister into the house

Aug. 19: Kids say they aren't lying about abuse

Aug. 20: Mom blamed adopted daughter for dying

Aug. 21: Foster mom: Immanuel was thin and terrified

Aug. 22: Girl's exhumed body gives few answers in Skagit murder and abuse trial

Aug. 26: Judge throws out testimony

Aug. 27: Husband blames wife in Skagit abuse trial

Aug. 28: Carri Williams takes stand in her own defense

Aug. 29: Carri Williams goes head to head with prosecutors

Sept. 4: Jurors have to vote on more than a dozen charges in Williams case

Sept. 5: The jury gets the case

Sept. 9: Jury convicts the Williams