A state appeals court has denied petitions from a Sedro-Woolley-area couple convicted of charges relating to the death of their adopted daughter to be released from prison.
Larry and Carri Williams in separate petitions filed in the state Court of Appeals District 1 in September 2017, asked the court of appeals to remand their cases back to Skagit County Superior Court based on what they believed to be errors made by their lawyers and the judge during their 2013 trial.
They also requested to be released from prison while they awaited those new trials.
The Williamses were convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana Williams and first-degree assault of a child for abusing her younger brother, both of whom were adopted from Ethiopia.
Carri Williams was also convicted of homicide by abuse for the death of the Hana, a teenager, who collapsed in her family’s backyard after being outside for hours. An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition.
In oral arguments held before the court in June, the Williamses claimed that, because of errors during their trial, their convictions were not constitutional, and therefore neither were their incarcerations.
The appeals court on Monday denied their requests.
One of the things Carri Williams claimed in her petition for release was that she should not have been convicted of the homicide by abuse charge because prosecutors had failed to define “extreme indifference to human life,” a requirement for the charge.
The appeals court disagreed.
“We conclude that the State established that Carri acted under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to whether Hana lived or died, both in the months leading up to, and on the day of her death,” the court stated. “At trial, (her younger brother), who was 12 at the time of trial, and six of the Williamses’ biological children, spanning in ages from 13 to over 18, described the circumstances under which Carri acted toward Hana preceding her death, from which a reasonable jury could conclude Carri placed Hana at risk of death and simply did not care whether she lived or died.”
In his filing, Larry Williams claimed, in part, that he could not have been convicted as an accomplice of manslaughter because manslaughter is an unintentional crime, documents state. The state, he claimed, had not proven that he could have known that Carri Williams’ actions could have caused Hana’s death.
The appeals court again disagreed.
“As long as the State presented evidence sufficient to establish that Larry knew he was facilitating Carri’s conduct and that conduct placed Hana’s life at risk, accomplice liability is properly available,” the court found.
Larry Williams was sentenced to 27 years and nine months — a sentence well above the standard sentencing range — and is now at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.
Carri Williams was sentenced to just shy of 37 years — the top of the sentencing range — and is serving her sentence at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor.