NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — After about four hours of deliberation, a jury in Norfolk found Hank Smith Jr., 42, guilty of all charges he faced in the death of his 4-year-old son.
Smith was convicted of felony homicide along with three related child abuse and neglect charges. His son, Larkin Carter Carr, was beaten to death at their Sangamon Avenue home in November 2018.
Even though it wasn’t Smith who harmed the child, the jury felt he shared responsibility.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Kristin Paulding, Smith’s defense attorney. She had given an impassioned closing argument Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to persuade the jury of 10 men and two women.
“We felt that we put on a very good case this week, that we were able to show that Hank did not really have the knowledge that Robbie was hurting Larkin to the extent that he was,” Paulding said.
14-year-old Robbie Bolsinger-Hartshorn, the son of Smith’s fiancée Catherine Seals, was watching Larkin and his younger brother Tyler on multiple occasions. During the second weekend of November 2018, Larkin had been vomiting. Smith and Seals chose not to take the little boy to the hospital.
Larkin died at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters the following Monday, and his injuries were the most damning evidence in Smith’s trial — even if he wasn’t the one who caused them.
Paulding said the pictures of the bruising was the hardest prosecution evidence to challenge.
“Obviously, I can’t overcome the fact that the medical examiner found 80 to 90 bruises on his body as well as significant internal injuries,” she said.
She said Smith never intended for his son to be harmed.
“He probably should have been more aware of what was going on in that home, but he can’t be aware of what’s happening when he’s not there,” pointing out that Smith would often be gone on extended work trips, including for two weeks right before the fateful weekend.
Paulding also says Norfolk Child Protective Services was aware that the 14-year-old Bolsinger-Hartshorn was a danger because of a report filed a month before Larkin was killed. Police say he confessed two months later to beating Larkin, first with a chair and then with his fists. He will be tried as an adult in February.
Meanwhile, Smith faces five to 40 years on the murder charge alone. He had been out on bond until the trial, but judge Jerrauld Jones revoked the bond Friday saying Smith was a flight risk and a danger. His sentencing is set for Jan. 14.