MICHIGAN CITY – A Long Beach man charged with the fatal shooting of his wife in 2012 may finally face a jury after almost seven years.
On the sole count of voluntary manslaughter, John B. Larkin is scheduled for jury trial beginning Sept. 9 in La Porte Superior Court 1.
It’s the same court where his case originated in 2012, but it’s made its way through several courts since.
After Judge Michael Bergerson became the presiding judge over the case in 2015, he recused himself due to the conflict presented by his having been a deputy prosecutor when the case was filed originally.
Larkin’s manslaughter case then had a short stint in La Porte Circuit Court, but Judge Thomas Alevizos also eventually recused himself, and the remainder of La Porte County judges followed suit.
The case was moved to Pulaski County, where Judge Patrick Blankenship dismissed the charge against Larkin in June 2016. He cited two main reasons for his decision: police and prosecutorial misconduct, and a lapse in time that he believed violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
Blankenship’s ruling was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed them both and sent the case back to trial court in November 2017.
By that time, however, Blankenship had resigned, and the case was forwarded to Judge Roger Bradford in Porter County in August 2018.
Now, with just days left on the timeclock before it’s too late to prosecute Larkin on the manslaughter charge, Bradford will preside as special judge during the Sept. 9 trial in Michigan City.
A special prosecutor will continue to represent the state in the matter, as has been the case since the La Porte County Prosecutor’s office withdrew its appearance in late 2015.
Larkin is accused of fatally shooting his wife, 41-year-old Stacey Renee Simon Larkin, during a domestic dispute inside their Lothair Way home on Dec. 11, 2012.
He is charged with voluntary manslaughter as a Class A felony, punishable by 20-50 years in prison, and remains free on the $10,000 cash bond he posted shortly after his 2012 arrest.
The case took a turn when Larkin’s attorney revealed to the court in 2014 that Larkin’s Sixth Amendment rights had been repeatedly violated throughout the course of the investigation.
According to Larkin’s former defense attorneys, he was denied the right to call his attorney after his arrest, despite Long Beach and Michigan City police officers’ continued efforts to question him and collect physical evidence from his person.
Two days after his arrest, police and prosecutors illegally recorded a privileged conversation between Larkin and his defense attorneys while they were alone inside an interview room at the La Porte County Jail. A prosecutor then had that recording transcribed and distributed it to other law enforcement officials.
Later in the investigation, two Long Beach Police officers accidentally recorded themselves conspiring to tamper with evidence in the form of convincing another officer to change his story when called to testify in the case.
And the gun safe door that had been admitted as evidence was found to have been tampered with and destroyed between state custody and turning it over to a defense expert.
The various violations led Blankenship to discharge Larkin in 2016, and the appellate court upheld that decision.
However, the Indiana Supreme Court determined in 2017 that a more appropriate course of action would be for a trial court to examine each piece of evidence to determine whether it was tainted; suppress that which has been tainted; and proceed to jury trial with whatever evidence remains.
Jury selection is set to begin at 8 a.m. on Sept. 9 in Superior Court 1.