Norfolk Child Protective Services defends handling of beating death case despite attorney’s criticism


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Child Protective Services department is standing by its investigation of the beating death of Larkin Carter Carr, 4, following harsh criticism from the defense attorney for the boy’s father. Hank Smith, 42, was convicted Friday of felony homicide along with child abuse and neglect charges.

The boy died at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in November 2018.

Smith, his fiancee Catherine Seals, and her teenage son Robert “Robbie” Bolsinger-Hartshorn were all charged with homicide in Larkin’s death. Smith and Seals had left Larkin in the care of Hartshorn twice in four days. Norfolk police say the teen admitted to beating the younger boy with a chair and his fists while Smith and Seals were gone from the home on Sangamon Avenue.

Smith’s attorney, Kristin Paulding, pointed to testimony given by a neighbor in Smith’s trial, in which she reported Bolsinger-Hartshorn was a threat to Larkin and his younger brother Tyler to Child Protective Services a month before Larkin’s death.

“That tells me that Norfolk CPS had that report and either ignored it or it got lost in paperwork. Someone should have been looking at Robbie a month before this ever happened,” Paulding said following Friday’s verdict.

But the agency is standing by its investigation of the case, and had some criticism of its own.

“Norfolk Child Protective Services’ staff thoughtfully and with great care conducted a thorough investigation. It is unfortunate that this attorney is attempting to distract the public from the outcome of her client’s case,” CPS said Monday afternoon in a statement.

Seals is scheduled for sentencing in December, which will be capped at a maximum of 21 years and six months as part of a plea agreement. Smith faces up to 40 years on the homicide charge, and an additional 25 years total on the three abuse and neglect felonies, at his sentencing in January. Bolsinger-Hartshorn goes to trial as an adult for second-degree murder in February.

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