NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday marked day three of testimony for the murder trial of Hank Smith in Norfolk.
The court heard testimony from Smith’s girlfriend Catherine Seals, a child abuse expert from Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and the medical examiner.
Smith faces felony homicide charges and child abuse/neglect charges in the death of his 4-year-old son Larkin Carr in November 2018.
Prosecutors argue Smith knew his girlfriend’s teenage son Robert “Robbie” Bolsinger-Hartshorn was abusing Larkin and his little brother Tyler. Bolsinger-Hartshorn is also charged in Larkin’s death. According to the prosecution, not only did Smith know about the abuse and did nothing about it, but he repeatedly left the boys in the teenager’s care, thus placing them in danger.
The day started with much-anticipated testimony from Seals, who pleaded guilty to felony homicide and child abuse and neglect a year after Larkin’s death.
Seals admitted Larkin had told her Bolsinger-Hartshorn was hurting him. She said she never saw Bolsinger-Hartshorn hit or hurt the young boys but she did see him place the boys in time out and told him it wasn’t his job to discipline Larkin and Tyler.
The medical examiner counted 60 to 90 bruises at the time of his death. An autopsy showed internal bleeding.
Seals pleaded guilty to felony homicide in 2019. Bolsinger-Hartshorn is charged with second-degree murder for Larkin’s death. He pleaded not guilty and will be tried as an adult in February.
Bolsinger-Hartshorn admitted to police he beat Larkin with a chair and punched him repeatedly.
On Wednesday, Seals said Smith was a loving father but wasn’t home much because he worked out of town. She was the one primarily responsible for taking care of the four children who lived with them. This included her then-14-year-old son Bolsinger-Hartshorn, Smith’s two sons, 4-year-old Larkin and 3-year-old Tyler, along with her and Smith’s infant daughter, Stephanie.
Smith, often gone for work, was home the weekend Larkin died. They made a joint decision not to take the little boy to the hospital when he first started vomiting — a decision she deeply regrets.
Seals testified she and Smith were out of the home that Monday taking another one of her daughters back to Virginia Beach when she received a call from Bolsinger-Hartshorn.
Bolsinger-Hartshorn said Larkin was unresponsive. She asked to FaceTime.
At this point in her testimony, there was a noticeable shift in the courtroom. Seals got quiet, tears filled her eyes. Hank Smith began crying from the defense table.
On the other end of the video call, she said Larkin looked “breathless.”
She immediately called 911.
The little boy was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after.
After Seals, the court heard from a child abuse expert from Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and the medical examiner.
The child abuse expert, Dr. Michelle Clayton, said the little boy was covered in more than 100 bruises — the decision not to take him to the hospital initally was considered “medically negligent” in her opinion.
The prosecution rested their case today.
The defense will call their first witness on Thursday.