Teen decides against pleading guilty in beating death of four-year-old


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A 16-year-old facing an adult charge of second degree murder was scheduled to enter a plea Monday morning, but refused.

Robert Holsinger-Hartshorn was 14 at the time of the gruesome beating death of 4-year-old Larkin Carr in November 2018. It now appears he will go to trial.

Bolsinger-Hartshorn’s mother and Larkin’s father were engaged to be married when Larkin died. They all lived in a home on Sangamon Avenue in Norfolk.

Catherine Seals left her teenaged son home alone to watch Larkin while Larkin’s father was away at work. A few days later the teen was with Larkin again, and the little boy was unresponsive. He was rushed to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD), where he died.

An investigation revealed that Larkin died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen, and his body had from 60 to 90 bruises. A judge handling the case in its early stages said she was on the verge of vomiting after reviewing the case file.

Bolsinger-Hartshorn was initially charged as a juvenile, but later certified to be charged as an adult.

According to the prosecutor in the case, the teen had told police that he slammed a chair into Larkin’s stomach, held him down and repeatedly punched him as a means of discipline.

When the teen changed his mind about the guilty plea, his public defender Cara Purvis was granted a motion to withdraw from the case, citing ethical reasons. Bolsinger-Hartshorn was assigned a new attorney.

If convicted at trial of second degree murder, Bolsinger-Hartshorn faces from five to 40 years in prison. His mother, Seals, has already entered a plea agreement on a similar charge, and will be sentenced in March to a maximum of 21-and-a-half years.

Larkin’s father Hank Smith is also charged with second degree-murder. His trial is slated for April.

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