Homicide trial continues for Norfolk father charged in 4-year-old son’s beating death


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The attorneys for Hank Smith, 42, are trying to put as much distance between him and the other two defendants in the case, his then-fiancée and her teenage son. Smith’s son, Larkin Carter Carr, was beaten to death at their Sangamon Avenue home nearly three years ago.

The prosecution is trying to show that Smith knew his two young children were being abused and should never have left them in the care of a teenager.

Larkin had been vomiting the weekend of Nov. 9, 2018. He had been left home alone that Friday afternoon with his 3-year-old brother Tyler and then-14-year-old Robert Bolsinger-Hartshorn, who is charged in Larkin’s death.

Smith had just returned from a two-week work trip. He is charged with felony homicide along with child abuse and neglect in Larkin’s death.

The prosecution played audio and video statements Smith gave to detectives shortly after Larkin’s death. They asked him why didn’t he take his son to the hospital, and Smith said that Larkin had been improving as the weekend progressed and began eating by Sunday.

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But by the next evening, Nov. 12, Larkin was taken to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters nonresponsive. Again, Smith and his then-fiancée Catherine Seals had left the two younger boys in the custody of the 14-year-old earlier that day. Larkin died at the hospital.

A city police detective said he interviewed Bolsinger-Hartshorn two months later, and the 14-year-old admitted to striking Larkin with a chair at the beginning of that November weekend, and punching him in the stomach while he pinned him down on the floor the following Monday afternoon.

The detective also found pictures on Smith‘s phone of both his sons with bruises that dated back three months before Larkin’s death, which would seem to indicate Smith knew his children were being abused.

But Smith said to police, “why would I keep those pictures on my phone if I had anything to hide?”

Defense attorney Kristin Paulding got the detective to admit that despite several reports done by social service agencies regarding Larkin and Tyler, none had shown that the 14-year-old was a threat.

On Wednesday the prosecution will call Seals to testify against Smith. She pleaded guilty to felony homicide and child abuse and neglect a year after Larkin’s death. Her sentence was capped as part of an agreement at 21 years, six months.

Bolsinger-Hartshorn is scheduled to be tried as an adult for Larkin’s death in February.

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