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Skagit Couple Who Beat Adopted Ethiopian Daughter Head To Prison

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

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A Skagit County couple convicted of beating their adopted Ethiopian daughter and leaving her to die in the cold outside were sentenced Tuesday to decades in prison.

Carri Williams was sentenced to nearly 37 years, the maximum allowed under state law. The judge said she probably deserved more, according to the Skagit Valley Herald.

Larry Williams was sentenced to nearly 28 years. His attorney had asked for a five-year sentence, saying he was unaware of his wife’s punishment of Hana.

Hana Williams was believed to be 13 when she died of malnutrition and hypothermia in the family yard in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. two years ago. On the night that she died, in May 2011, Carri Williams dialed 911 to report that Hana wasn’t breathing, and that she was refusing to come into the house. Hana was found face down in the backyard with mud in her mouth, according to court records.

The case raised questions about how adopted children are treated, and also sparked outrage in Seattle’s Ethiopian community.

Mulu Mebet Retta, who heads the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association in Seattle, was among 35 Ethiopians who packed the Mount Vernon courtroom. She said many cried quietly as Judge Susan Cook delivered her decision.

“When they came here I imagine they were so happy, like all of us when we come here to America,” she said. “This is a chance for a better life. This is where you get everything, you know, land of plenty. So that was all washed away.”

A jury found the couple guilty on Sept. 9 of the girl’s death. The couple was also found guilty of assault, for punishing a deaf boy they adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 at the same time as Hana. The boy testified that the parents used belts and sticks to beat him.    

The Williams also had six biological children who were placed in foster care after their parents’ arrests.

Year started with KUOW: 2006