Hana Williams’ adoptive parents sentenced to decades in prison

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A Washington state couple convicted of starving and beating their 13-year-old adopted daughter — forcing her outside where she died in the cold — were sentenced Tuesday to decades in prison.

Judge Susan Cook sentenced Carri Williams to just under 37 years. Larry Williams was sentenced to nearly 28 years. Both terms are well above the standard sentencing range.

Hana Williams died of hypothermia and starvation in the family yard in Sedro-Woolley, Washington two years ago.

Prosecutors testified that Carri and Larry Williams turned their home into a torture chamber where they subjected Hana and her 12-year-old brother Emmanuel to horrendous abuse in the guise of discipline.

Hana and Emanuel were reportedly isolated from the family’s seven biological children. They were spanked and hit with belts and a switch. The siblings were also excluded from Christmas festivities and were often forced to eat outside.

Siblings — some of whom at times participated in the abuse — testified in court that Hana and her brother were given frozen food, as well as sandwiches soaked in water. Experts testified that Hana, in particular, had lost a significant amount of weight before she died.

Jurors heard that Hana was frequently forced to sleep in the barn, or in a shower or closet.

At the couple’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors said that Emanuel is suffering with PTSD — Post-traumatic stress disorder, believing that, even though the Williams’ are headed to prison for a very long time, Carri Williams is still able to come after him.

Religion Factor?

While prosecutors said religion was not a factor in the trial, investigators pointed out that the couple followed strict religious principles described in the Christian parenting book titled “To Train Up a Child,” by Michael and Debi Pearl. The controversial book has featured in a number of religion-related child abuse news stories.

During sentencing, friends of the couple argued they are good people with children who had behavioral problems they couldn’t handle.

But Judge Cook responded, “What I see is one child dead, one child with PTSD, and seven biological children who apparently believe that degrading and dehumanizing another person is completely acceptable.”

Emanuel and the Williams’ seven biological children were placed in foster care after their parents’ arrests.

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This post was last updated: Nov. 1, 2013