Father pleads not guilty in beating death of 4-year-old Norfolk boy

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A father charged in connection to the beating death of his 4-year-old son pleaded not guilty Tuesday to four indictments filed against him.

Hank Larkin Smith, Jr., 40, is charged with felony homicide, child abuse/neglect, child neglect, and child cruelty in connection to the death of his son, Larkin Carter Carr. A grand jury filed the indictments against Smith in March.

He was arraigned in Norfolk Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Larkin died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen in November 2018. He was allegedly beaten and abused by Robert Bolsinger-Hartshorn, a teenager who lived in the same home. At the time of Larkin’s death, Bolsinger-Hartshorn was 14. He is now 16, and is charged with second-degree murder in connection to Larkin’s death.

Smith isn’t accused of physically killing Larkin, but prosecutors believe he knew the child was being abused by Bolsinger-Hartshorn in the months leading up to his death and that he didn’t intervene. Smith is also accused of failing to seek medical attention for Larkin the weekend before he died when the 4-year-old became very sick and vomited brown and black matter, according to court documents.

Police said Bolsinger-Hartshorn admitted to punching Larkin and hitting him with a chair. An autopsy estimated that Larkin had as many as 90 bruises across his body at the time of his death. Some of the bruising showed grip and knuckle marks on Larkin’s body, while other injuries suggested that he may have been abused with a belt, according to court documents.

The autopsy also revealed that there was evidence that Larkin suffered from “chronic inadequate provision of food; inadequate provision of medical care; possible terminal dehydration,” according to court documents.

A Norfolk Circuit Court judge ordered sanity and competency evaluations for Bolsinger-Hartshorn. He is scheduled to appear in Norfolk Circuit Court on June 23.

Also implicated in Larkin’s death is Bolsinger-Hartshorn’s mother, 36-year-old Catherine Seals. Smith and Seals were engaged at the time of Larkin’s death. Seals pleaded guilty to felony homicide and felony child abuse with serious injury in November 2019. She is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

A Norfolk Circuit Court judge decided Tuesday that Smith could be allowed to remain out of jail on bond while he awaits trial, which is scheduled for October. Smith has requested to be tried by a jury. The judge will also allow Smith to travel out of Virginia for work, but he must report to pretrial services every time he changes locations.

Kristin Paulding, an attorney representing Smith, declined to comment on the case.


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