U.S. adoptive mother guilty of homicide in death of Ethiopian daughter

By Jonathan Kaminsky

OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - A U.S. adoptive mother accused of starving her 13-year-old Ethiopian-born daughter and locking her outside in the cold, where she died from exposure, was found guilty of homicide on Monday in Washington state, local media reported.

Hana Williams, adopted from Ethiopia in 2008, died of hypothermia in May 2011 after she was found unconscious outside shortly after midnight in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), authorities said.

The Skagit Valley Herald reported that the girl's mother was convicted on Monday of homicide by abuse and of manslaughter linked to the girl's death, while the father was convicted of manslaughter.

Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could lawyers for the couple immediately be reached.

Larry and Carri Williams, of Sedro-Woolley - a town about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia - were arrested in September 2011, more than four months after Hana died in their backyard.

Investigators say the abuse Hana endured included beatings, starvation, being forced to sleep outside and use an outdoor toilet, and that she had lost a significant amount of weight since her adoption. Prosecutors said the 10-year-old brother was similarly mistreated.

The parents kept the family isolated from non-relatives, home-schooled the children and followed strict religious principles described in the Christian parenting book titled "To Train Up a Child," investigators said.

Although investigators found the Washington state couple adhered to a harsh child-rearing regimen prescribed by the controversial parenting book, prosecutors have said religion was not relevant to the criminal case.

In addition to the charges linked to Hana's death, both parents were also found guilty of assault of a child stemming from mistreatment of their 10-year-old son, also adopted from Ethiopia, the paper reported.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Bill Trott and Cynthia Osterman)