• Girl's exhumed body gives few answers in Skagit murder and abuse trial

    By: Lee Stoll


    MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - Digging up a dead girl's body did not give anyone the answers they were looking for on day 19 of the Skagit murder and abuse trial.

    Hana Williams starved and froze to death in 2011.

    She lay buried for more than a year when officers, under a court order, exhumed her body and took her 5-foot, 78-pound body to the medical examiner's office.

    Doctors measured her bones and examined her teeth to determine how old she was when she died, facedown in the mud behind Larry and Carri Williams' Sedro-Woolley home.

    Age matters because the couple is charged with homicide by abuse. In a homicide by abuse charge, a victim must be a child, 16 years old or younger.

    Adoption records say Hana was 13.

    "'I don't believe she was 13," said Dr. David Sweet, who examined Hana's X-rays.

    Her adult teeth were fully developed.

    "I believe the person is 16.25 years old," he testified.

    Another dentist with the same information testified Hana was younger.

    "My opinion is that she's at least 15 years old," said Dr. Gary Bell.

    If the jury decides Hana is older than 16, the Williamses could still be convicted of manslaughter and of assaulting their adopted son, Immanuel Williams. Both charges carry the possibility of life in prison.

    Immanuel says the Ethiopian kids were beaten, fed frozen food and punished with cold showers -- discipline different from how the parents treated their seven biological children.

    The Williamses say they were strict with all of the kids.

    While science puts Hana's age anywhere between 13 and 18 years old, her cousin said an entry made in the family Bible proves she was 13 years old.

    "I knew the day she was born. My sisters also remember that day," said Kassaye Woldetsidik, who testified earlier this month.

    But Woldetsidik, who flew from Ethiopia to testify, disappeared two weeks ago.

    He is suspected of using the trip to stay in the United States illegally, raising questions about anything he may have said to get here.

    Hana's remains were reburied in January.

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