NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — An attorney representing a teenager charged with murder has asked a Norfolk judge to bar his mother — who is also his codefendant — from indirectly contacting him through witnesses connected to his case.
Robert Bolsinger-Hartshorn, 16, is charged with the second-degree murder of Larkin Carter Carr. The 4-year-old died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen on Nov. 12, 2018. Bolsinger-Hartshorn was 14 at the time of the homicide, and is accused of beating the toddler to death.
Bolsinger-Hartshorn and Larkin are not related. The teenager’s mother, Catherine Seals, and Larkin’s father, Hank Smith Jr., were engaged at the time of the homicide. Larkin and his little brother, Tyler, were temporarily living with the couple and Bolsinger-Hartshorn at a home on Sangamon Avenue in Norfolk when the killing happened.
Both parents were also charged in connection with Larkin’s death. Seals is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to felony homicide and child abuse and neglect in November 2019. Smith is charged with felony homicide, child abuse, child neglect, and child cruelty. His case is scheduled to go before a jury on October 25. The pretrial will begin days before on October 22.
Prosecutors believe both parents knew Bolsinger-Hartshorn was abusing Larkin in the months leading up to his death, but failed to intervene. Smith is also accused of failing to seek medical attention for Larkin in the days before he died when the 4-year-old became very sick, according to records filed in Norfolk Circuit Court.
The teenager’s attorney, Jamilah LeCruise, filed a motion in Norfolk Circuit Court in April asking a judge to bar Seals from using witnesses to indirectly contact her son and make recommendations about his case. The motion was filed after the teenager’s sister told the attorney that Seals wanted Bolsinger-Hartshorn to take a plea deal offered by prosecutors because it would be “easier” on him, court records state.
LeCruise told a judge that Bolsinger-Hartshorn and his sister have spoken on the phone during his incarceration at the Norfolk Detention Home. His sister will likely be called as a witness in the trial because she was at the house on Sagamon Avenue in the days leading up to Larkin’s death, according to court records.
Although LeCruise could not definitively say that Seals was attempting to influence her son to take a plea agreement through her communications with his sister, the attorney asked a judge to consider barring the mother from communicating with Bolsinger-Hartshorn about the case via witnesses “out of an abundance of caution,” court records state.
LeCruise also asked a judge to approve up to $1,500 for the defense attorney to hire an investigator who would record the testimony of Bolsinger-Hartshorn’s legal guardian prior to his trial because she is in hospice and may die before testifying, according to court records.
The legal guardian is not charged in connection with the case. This person would testify about the history of physical abuse Bolsinger-Hartshorn experienced at the “hands of her adult son due to the inaction of the codefendant, Catherine Seals,” court records state.
If approved, an investigator will record the legal guardian’s testimony and provide a transcript for attorneys to use during Bolsinger-Hartshorn’s jury trial, which is currently scheduled to begin in June.