MICHIGAN CITY — For the fatal shooting of his wife in 2012, John B. Larkin was sentenced Monday, Oct. 21, to two years in prison.
But the almost-7-year-old manslaughter case isn’t over – the judge allowed Larkin to remain free on an appeal bond of $20,000 cash or surety, and remain home with his four children while the Indiana Court of Appeals determines whether the jury’s Sept. 13 conviction should stand.
“There have been so many problems in this case not caused by the defendant,” said special Judge Roger Bradford, referring to the repeated incidents of police and prosecutorial misconduct uncovered throughout the investigation. “… It’s been such a mess; it’s been such a stain on our entire system.”
Bradford said that in this particular case, the mitigating circumstances “far outweigh” the aggravating circumstances. And for that reason, he settled on a sentence of half the advisory four years.
Defense attorney Stacy Uliana asked that the entirety of Larkin’s sentence be served on probation.
“Some people who have taken human life don’t deserve prison,” she said.
Special prosecutor Stan Levco requested time executed in prison, stating, “He took a human life. He deserves a jail sentence.”
The judge ultimately sided with Levco.
“I believe in making people responsible for their own actions,” Bradford said.
Prior to sentence pronouncement, each of Larkin’s four children read a letter he or she had written to the court. All expressed love for their mother despite her mental illness and substance abuse; and all elaborated on their love and admiration for their father, both before and since their mother’s death.
The family’s group counselor, Toni Henke-Wheeler, testified that she believes a probationary sentence would be in the best interest of the Larkins’ children, who need their father home to provide guidance, emotional stability and further healing.
“Sometimes tragic accidents happen … and assigning blame is sometimes not helpful,” she said.
When it was his turn to address the court, Larkin said he’d do things differently if he could go back to Dec. 11, 2012 – the day his wife died of two gunshot wounds to the torso.
Larkin said neither he nor his wife woke up that day expecting it to end in tragedy, and that his intention was not to shoot her but to keep the gun away from her, as she’d had suicidal tendencies.