'He had more than 100 bruises' Doctors detail how 4-year-old died; father charged in death

Posted at 3:37 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 17:02:54-05

NORFOLK, Va. - 40-year-old Hank Smith Jr. sat before a judge on Wednesday, charged in the beating death of his 4-year-old son, Larkin Carr.

Showing graphic autopsy pictures, Dr. Michelle Clayton, director of child abuse at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, described the more than 100 bruises, internal bleeding, intestinal tears and signs of starvation on Carr's 28-pound body.

Smith put his head in his hands and looked away while hearing how police and doctors believe his son was beaten to death.

Carr was pronounced dead at the hospital on November 12, 2018. Smith is charged with felony homicide in the death.

Norfolk Police detectives who testified Wednesday say Smith told them Larkin was sick for three days prior to his death. He said his son was vomiting, having accidents, throwing up blood and unable to eat, but never mentioned any bruising to his body.

Smith's attorney told the court that Smith noticed his son was ill on a Friday, and so he gave him Pepto-Bismol, crackers, oatmeal and chicken. However, a later autopsy report revealed Larkin had nothing in his stomach.

The state said Smith never took Larkin to receive medical care.

On the Friday before Larkin died, he and his 3-year-old brother were left at home in the care of the 13-year-old son of Smith's girlfriend before he died. Police believe that teen beat Larkin more than once that weekend, ultimately causing blunt force trauma to his abdomen.

Catherine Seals is the mother of the teen. She was also charged and sentenced to 21 years in connection with Larkin's death.

Police believe the teen may have beaten Larkin several times months before his death.

Also in court Wednesday, the state played several jailhouse phone calls made by Smith on January 6 of this year. Smith said, "I didn't want to confront the 14-year-old or I would have been in trouble. He knows I would have jumped him."

The teenager is charged with second-degree murder and will be tried as an adult.

The judge said Wednesday there was probable cause to proceed with charges against Smith. The case will go before a grand jury on March 4.

Smith remains out on bond.