Virginia mother sentenced to 18 years for 4-year-old’s death

Posted at 12:05 PM, November 11, 2022 and last updated 1:48 AM, December 13, 2022

NORFOLK, Va. (WTKR) — A woman was sentenced in connection to a 4-year-old boy’s death.

Catherine Seals pleaded guilty in 2019 to child abuse/neglect. She was sentenced to 20 years, 12 suspended, for felony homicide, and 10 years for child abuse, a total of 18 years. She will have five years of supervised probation and 20 years of uniform good behavior upon her release from prison.

Catherine Seals (Norfolk City Sheriff’s Office)

Catherine Seals and Hank Larkin Smith were both charged with felony homicide after Seals’ 14-year-old son, Robert “Robbie” Bolsinger-Hartshorn, beat Hank Smith’s 4-year-old son, Larkin Carr, to death in 2018. She was the last defendant to be sentenced. Seals was Smith’s fiancé.

Bolsinger-Hartshorn was sentenced for voluntary manslaughter on October 21, 2022. Bolsinger-Hartshorn confessed to striking Larkin in his stomach with a chair on Nov. 9, 2018. 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.”

Larkin Carr (WTKR)

He was sentenced to serve an active sentence in the Department of Juvenile Justice until age 21. Then he will have 10 years of suspended prison time conditioned upon five years of supervised probation and uniform good behavior.

A jury returned the guilty verdict for Hank Smith Jr. in 2021 after roughly four and a half hours of deliberation. Smith was found guilty on each of his charges, which include felony homicide, child abuse or child neglect, child cruelty and child neglect. He was sentenced to 21 years. 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. Smith will be subject to five years of supervised probation and 20 years of uniform good behavior upon his release from prison.

According to court documents, the 14-year-old was home with the victim the day of the incident and called his mom when the boy wasn’t responsive. They say Seals and 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.

The 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.

The autopsy reported that 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.

This story was originally published Nov. 10, 2022, by WTKR in Norfolk, VA, an E.W. Scripps Company.