Doctor disputes age of girl tortured by adopted parents

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - Testimony continued Thursday in the trial of a Skagit County couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death.

Larry and Carri Williams are on trial for homicide by abuse after their adopted daughter Hana was found dead of hypothermia at their house. Although Hana died of hypothermia, there were other contributing causes to her death, including severe malnutrition and chronic gastritis, doctors said.

Thursday's testimony began with Dr. Jordan Haber, an expert radiologist from New York, who evaluated Hana's' X-rays and determined her true age range, which he determined to be between 15-17 years old.

This is significant because a victim must be younger than 16 years old for a conviction of homicide by abuse.

"Hana was going through the process of becoming a young adult," Dr. Haber said. "Her epiphyses were beginning to fuse."

The victim's age became part of the focus during cross-examination, because original reports, along with the Williams, assumed Hana was 13 years old.

Dr. Haber came up with the age determination after he compared Hana's hand and wrist X-rays to bone atlases, the standard radiologists use to compare maturation of bones.

"It's my opinion that she came closest to 15 years," Dr. Haber said.

One inconsistency the doctor found was in the hip area, but not enough to impact his overall opinion.

"Hana's funny bone only partially fused, the age of the fusion according to the standard atlas was between 13 and 15 years," Dr. Haber said. "I would have expected her fuse to be consistent with the overwhelming findings of a bone age of 15-17 years."

Carri Williams took the stand Wednesday, and continued Thursday, detailing Hana's punishment, living conditions, and adoption process. She described how the young girl was not given meals as punishment, and detailed the final moments before she found the child's lifeless body in her backyard.

The day Hana died, prosecutors say she was banished to the back yard. It was raining hard, and the family found her unconscious in the mud a short time later.

"My daughter was completely naked, and just her shoulders and head were on the patio face down," Williams said. "Her face was completely flat in the mole hill."

Larry Williams took the stand for most of Tuesday, describing discipline techniques the family used.

When asked by an attorney what he felt most responsible about, Larry Williams replied: "I'm the dad... my daughter died... possibly I could have done something to stop it. And I didn't."

Hana had been adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 as a diseased little girl to begin a new life with her new parents in America.

Carri and Larry Williams have other biological children, who prosecutors say did not suffer the same abuse as the two adopted kids.

The trial will continue in Mount Vernon Friday, with Carri Williams continuing her testimony.