MICHIGAN CITY – The judge dealt a few blows to the state Thursday in the manslaughter case against John B. Larkin, a Long Beach man accused of killing his wife in 2012.
Special prosecutor Christopher Gaal requested the state be allowed to pursue a conviction on the lesser-included offense of reckless homicide should the jury not convict Larkin of voluntary manslaughter.
But defense attorney Stacy Uliana objected.
“Either they believe it was an accident, or it’s not,” she said.
Judge Roger Bradford agreed, and denied the request.
Uliana then indicated she may consider eliminating the jury instruction that addresses self-defense, which brought an objection from special prosecutor Stanley Levco, who said he’d have approached the case differently if he’d known Larkin’s potential claim of self-defense might be off the table.
“They’ve got the advantage of assassinating this woman’s character, which normally wouldn’t have even been admissible,” he said.
Levco said that if self-defense hadn’t been an option, he’d have objected to the defense bringing in character witnesses to testify regarding Stacey Larkin’s documented mental health issues and alleged behavioral problems and substance abuse.
Uliana said she spoke too soon, and should not have mentioned self-defense when she had not yet made a decision.
Levco then attempted to file a second charge against John; but the judge denied that request as well, noting it was “way too far” into the case for new charges.
Later in the morning, the state requested they be allowed to present in rebuttal the video evidence of Long Beach Police Lt. Todd Bullis’ interview with the Larkin children. Levco said the video would refute the girls’ claim that Bullis had told them their dad intentionally shot their mom and would be going to prison for a long time.
Uliana quickly objected, telling the judge that when the defense requested such a tape, they were informed no such tape existed.
Levco clarified that he had not yet viewed the tape, because Bullis had not procured it until Wednesday night.
The judge denied them the ability to introduce the new evidence at this late stage in the case, noting it was the state’s fault for failing to produce it sooner.
The defense went on to present the rest of its own evidence:
• A friend of the decedent, who testified that Stacey’s drug use had adversely affected her behavior in her final months.
• A construction worker who encountered the Larkins in Grand Beach around lunchtime on Dec. 11, 2012, the day Stacey died. The witness said he believed both to have been behaving strangely – John by insisting Stacey meet him for dinner, and Stacey being adamant about not going. The man said he asked John in private what was wrong, and learned John was presenting Stacey with an ultimatum – either go to rehab or sign divorce papers.
• Another construction worker who made contact with Stacey in the evening hours of Dec. 11, 2012 at a Michigan City salon. He said she seemed “paranoid,” and told him a man had been stalking her.
• A defense-hired toxicologist, who said the Adderall in Stacey’s blood during autopsy – 240 nanograms per milliliter – measured more than three times the therapeutic level and could have caused aggressive and paranoid behavior.
• A defense-hired psychiatrist, who indicated Adderall should never have been prescribed to a person with diagnosed bipolar or major depressive disorders, as Stacey had been years before.
• The Larkins’ divorce attorney, who testified she had worked with the Larkins on multiple occasions throughout the last year of Stacey’s life, as recently as the day before Stacey died, when John contacted her to tell her he was ready to follow through on the divorce.
• A defense-hired forensic firearms analyst, who testified and showed video evidence that the Larkins’ gun was defective, as it fired two time out of 24 when dropped.
The case will return to La Porte Superior Court 1 at 9 a.m. Friday, at which time attorneys on both sides will provide closing statements.
From there, it will be handed over to the jury for deliberation.
If convicted of the sole charge of voluntary manslaughter as a Class A felony, John Larkin could face 20-50 years in prison.