MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - After five weeks of testimony, it's up to jurors to decide if Larry and Carri Williams are killers and child abusers. The jury deliberated for about an hour before being sent home for the day.
Attorney Wes Richards told jurors in closing arguments that Carri is guilty of abusing her adopted children Hana and Immanuel—but she is not a killer. "You might feel that she should have to shower outside naked, give her a taste of her own medicine," said Richards. Carri herself testified Hana showered with a garden hose and used a port-a-potty. She fed the Ethiopian pair frozen food outside the Sedro Woolley home.
Richards told jurors to put their reactions aside. "Could she have done more? Yes," said Richards. Richards says the state charged the case incorrectly. Larry and Carri are bad parents, not murderers.
The couple is charged with homicide by abuse, manslaughter and assault, all of which could mean life in prison. The jury can consider lesser charges, which carry less prison time. "The concern I have is that you're going to decide this case on your emotions." Richards told the jury.
"I suspect it was a very logical move because those would be the thoughts I would imagine in the minds of the jurors," said Maureen Evans. She was in court to hear several of the Williams' own seven children testify about their parent's tactics—like spankings and swats. Evans adopted twin sisters from Ethiopia when she lived in Maryland 19 years ago. State law required her not to hit the girls as discipline. "Potentially harmful methods of discipline serve only to re-traumatize children that have already been traumatized," said Evans.
Prosecutors say Hana's 30-pound weight loss was too obvious to ignore. She repeatedly collapsed, unable to eat, bleeding from her head and knees the night she starved and froze to death. "You wouldn't treat a dog this way. You wouldn't treat a prisoner this way," said prosecutor Rosemary Kaholakula.
With the trial over, the judge lifted the no-contact order between the Williams and their children. They have to have a hearing in dependency court before they can see the kids.