Hana Williams: Homicide by Abuse Trial Underway

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The trial of a Washington State couple accused of abusing to death their adopted Ethiopian daughter Hana Alemu (Hana Williams) is underway.

In October, 2007, the couple — accused of starving their adopted Ethiopian-born daughter and locking her outside in the cold, where she died from exposurepleaded not guilty to homicide and child abuse charges.

But on Monday, Hana’s 12-year-old brother Emanuel testified in court that he and his sister were repeatedly beaten and punished with a water hose.

The boy said that he was beaten very hard, that the beatings got worse over time, and that no part of his body was spared from being hit.

Prosecutors say that Hana’s adoptive parents, Carri and Larry Williams, turned their home into a torture chamber where they subjected their adopted children to horrendous abuse in the guise of discipline.

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They told jurors that Hana wasn’t punished, but tortured.

Jurors heard how Hana was forced to sleep in the barn or was locked in a shower room or closets.

“Five-foot tall Hana living in the closet up to 23 hours at a time, that’s not discipline,” said prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula. […]

Hana and Emanuel were reportedly isolated from the family’s seven biological children during timeouts. Prosecutors say they were also excluded from Christmas festivities and forced to eat outside.

Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in Hana Williams’ death, but the Seattle Times says

The homicide-by-abuse charge applies only if the victim was younger than 16, and Hana’s exact age has been at issue throughout the investigation. She is believed to have been 13 when she died, but documentation of her birth has been unavailable.

Court documents indicate that among others forms of punishment Hana had been locked inside a dark closet for hours or days without food while the parents played the Bible on tape and Christian music.

She was also forced to sleep in the barn on some nights or kept outside for hours in the cold without adequate clothing or shoes — though she was allowed to wear shoes if there was snow on the ground.

In October, 2011, NBC News reported that

The Williams’ older biological children were sometimes encouraged to join in administering the punishment by their parents.

A witness told investigators that the Williams got their ideas for the disciplinary measures from a book, “How to Train Up Your Child,” which recommends switchings with a plumbing tool, cold water baths, withholding food and putting children out in cold weather as forms of punishment.

Written by Michael and Debi Pearl, the controversial book — which is actually titled ‘To Train Up a Child’ — has featured in several other abuse cases across the USA.

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This post was last updated: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM, Central European Time (CET)