MOUNT VERNON, Washington (AP) — A U.S. couple was convicted of manslaughter Monday in the malnutrition-and-hypothermia death of a teenage girl they adopted from Ethiopia.
A jury found Larry Williams, of Sedro-Woolley, Washington state, guilty of first-degree manslaughter and his wife, Carri Williams, guilty of homicide by abuse as well as manslaughter.
The jury also convicted them both of assault of a child for abusing a younger boy they adopted from Ethiopia at the same time as the girl.
The jury couldn’t reach a decision on the homicide by abuse charge for Larry Williams, and the judge declared a mistrial on that count.
Larry and Carri Williams face a maximum life sentence, the Skagit Valley Herald newspaper reported.
Hana Williams died in the backyard of the family’s home in May 2011. Prosecutors said she was starved, beaten and forced outside as punishment.
Defense lawyers argued that questionable parenting practices don’t necessarily amount to a crime. Lawyers for both the husband and wife said an appeal is likely.
Hana is believed to have been 13, but no documentation of her birth in Ethiopia was available. The trial was postponed several times and her body was exhumed in January. Tests on her teeth and bones gave varying estimates and experts were unable to agree on her age.
Her age was significant because the homicide by abuse charge applies only if the victim was younger than 16.
Hana Williams was adopted in 2008.
Information from: Skagit Valley Herald, http://www.skagitvalleyherald.com