Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Norfolk man failed to protect his son from being beaten. Now, he faces decades in prison

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A Norfolk man faces the possibility of decades in prison after being convicted of multiple charges accusing him of failing to protect his 4-year-old son from being beaten to death.

A jury found Hank Larkin Smith Jr. guilty late last week of felony homicide and three felony child abuse and neglect charges at the end of a week-long trial in Norfolk Circuit Court.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 70 years. Smith, 42, will be sentenced Jan. 14.

Smith’s son, Larkin Carr, died in 2019 from blunt-force trauma to his abdomen. Prosecutors say the child was beaten on multiple occasions by Robert “Robbie” Bolsinger-Hartshorn, the 14-year-old son of Smith’s girlfriend, Catherine Seals.

Seals and Bolsinger were living in a house in Norfolk’s Roland Park neighborhood with Smith and his 3- and 4-year-old sons at the time.

Paramedics were called to the home on Nov. 9, 2019. There, they found Larkin lying unresponsive on a sofa. The boy had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. His tiny body was covered in bruises. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

Larkin and his younger brother had been left with Bolsinger that afternoon while Seals and Smith drove Seals’ daughter to Virginia Beach. They were on their way home when Bolsinger called to tell them Larkin was unresponsive. Seals then called 911.

Investigators say Bolsinger admitted to beating Larkin. He is charged as an adult with second-degree murder and is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Seals pleaded guilty in 2019 to the same charges Smith was found guilty of last week. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to ask for no more than 21 years and six months in prison for her when she’s sentenced on Dec. 10.

While prosecutors didn’t accuse Smith and Seals of beating Larkin, they contend the two were also responsible for his death because they failed to protect him from Bolsinger.

The couple, however, said they were not aware the teen was harming the child and didn’t believe he was capable of such violence. Smith also was away for weeks at a time for work, his lawyer, Kristin Paulding, said.

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, [email protected]

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