MOUNT VERNON — A jury has still not been chosen for the trial of a Sedro-Woolley couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death.
Hana Williams died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition, according to an examination of her body. She was found lying dead in the family’s backyard in May 2011.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in Hana’s death. They each also face a charge of first-degree assault connected with alleged abuse of their younger adopted son.
They have pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The jury pool started at about 150 people Tuesday morning. Right away, 54 were excused for various medical or personal reasons. The court later excused several more who could not serve for the four to six weeks the trial is expected to last.
Attorneys spent the rest of the day wading through the 100 or so remaining, asking to dismiss those who didn’t think they could be impartial if chosen for the jury.
Most of the people dismissed for that reason said they already had strong opinions they couldn’t set aside about the Williamses’ guilt or innocence, the nature of the case, or the attorneys or witnesses involved.
A little more than half of the people remaining in the pool said they knew about the case before they reported for jury duty, but only about five said they formed an immediate opinion when they learned about it.
Because of the evidence expected to come up at trial, attorneys questioned prospective jurors about their feelings about spanking and other parental discipline, what constitutes child abuse and what constitutes torture. Many jurors offered opinions on the matters, but none was dismissed solely from those focused late-afternoon discussions.
By day’s end, the group was whittled to about 60 people. The process resumes this morning.
Before opening arguments can begin, however, attorneys for both sides still have motions before Judge Susan K. Cook about which witnesses and evidence should be allowed in the case. Presentation of those motions was expected to resume Tuesday, but jury selection took the entire day.