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Commonwealth's Attorney News Releases

Posted on: November 10, 2022

Commonwealth v. Catherine L. Seals, Hank L. Smith Jr., and Robert T. Bolsinger-Hartshorn

NORFOLK, Va. – In 2018, 4-year-old Larkin Carr died in the care of his father, Hank Larkin Smith Jr., and his father’s fiancée, Catherine Louise Seals, because Ms. Seals’ teen son beat him repeatedly while the adults neglected to give him proper medical attention. On Thursday, Ms. Seals was sentenced to 18 active years in prison for her role in Larkin’s abuse and untimely death. Ms. Seals was the final co-defendant — along with Mr. Smith and her son, Robert Tyler Bolsinger-Hartshorn — to be sentenced in this case.

On Nov. 12, 2018, Norfolk Police and emergency personnel responded to a report of an unresponsive child at Ms. Seals’ residence on Sangamon Avenue. They found a malnourished Larkin covered in bruises, unresponsive, and with no pulse or breathing. Mr. Bolsinger-Hartshorn, then 14, was the only other person home at the time. Despite life-saving attempts, Larkin never regained consciousness.

Ms. Seals and Mr. Smith told police they were aware of Larkin feeling sick and complaining of abdominal pain as early as Nov. 9, 2018. They did not seek medical attention for him despite Larkin soiling himself with bloody stool and having unremitting vomiting episodes.

An autopsy ruled Larkin’s cause of death as blunt force trauma to the abdomen that led to a ruptured duodenum. He suffered an estimated 90 bruises, some old and some recent, across his face and upper body alone as well as extensive internal bleeding. Many of the bruises suggested Larkin had been gripped, punched or struck with objects. The autopsy noted that Larkin died within minutes of a final blow, but he could have survived his older injuries had he received proper medical care.

In a January 2019 interview with detectives, Mr. Bolsinger-Hartshorn confessed to striking Larkin in his stomach with a chair on Nov. 9, 2018. Mr. Bolsinger-Hartshorn, who was also critically underweight when he was Larkin’s age, also admitted to striking Larkin numerous times a day approximately every other day. He did so, he said, “Because that is how I was disciplined.”

Ms. Seals pleaded guilty on Nov. 13, 2019, to felony homicide and child abuse resulting in serious injury. She was sentenced Thursday by Judge Tasha D. Scott to serve 18 active years in prison. The details of her sentence include 20 years, 12 suspended, for felony homicide, and 10 years for child abuse. Ms. Seals, who is 38, will be subject to five years of supervised probation and 20 years of uniform good behavior upon her release from prison.

On Oct. 29, 2021, Mr. Smith was found guilty by a jury of his peers of felony homicide, child abuse resulting in serious injury, child neglect and child cruelty. On Feb. 25, 2022, Mr. Smith was sentenced by Judge Jerrauld C. Jones to serve 21 active years in prison. The details of his sentence include 30 years, nine suspended, for felony homicide; five years, all suspended, for child abuse; five years, all suspended, for child neglect; and one year, suspended, for child cruelty. Mr. Smith, who is 43, will be subject to five years of supervised probation and 20 years of uniform good behavior upon his release from prison.

Mr. Bolsinger-Hartshorn pleaded guilty on Sep. 9, 2022, to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced by Judge David W. Lannetti on Oct. 21, 2022, to serve an active sentence in the Department of Juvenile Justice until age 21. Thereafter, Mr. Bolsinger-Hartshorn will have 10 years of suspended prison time conditioned upon five years of supervised probation and uniform good behavior.

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordon C. Ufkes led the prosecution of each co-defendant’s case on behalf of the Commonwealth. Please contact Nia Tariq at 757-620-5454 for more information.

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