Washington County VA

Prosecution, defense offer different views of death

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. - Terri Larkin died November 18, 2003. Prosecutors say her husband Dale Larkin killed her. Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks said, "there are injuries to the front side of this woman, to the right side of this woman, to the left side of this woman, every where you look there's an injury."

Dale Larkin's defense team tells a different story. "As far as him being in that house with the doors locked others who saw it know better," said attorney Mark Slagle.

Terri Larkin's daughter from a previous marriage, Tia Gentry, was 11 the day she got off the school bus and found her mother's body in the bathtub.

"I talked to her, when she didn't respond, I shook her she didn't move," Tia Gentry testified.

The official cause of death is asphyxiation. The jury will hear several medical experts trying to explain how Terri Larkin received over 20 bruises and several broken bones. "Your common sense will come into play with the injuries Terri Larkin received at or near the time of her death," said Dennis Brooks.

Dale Larkin told police he was at home and the two had been spending time together, but says he was in the garage when his step-daughter found her mother.

"The bruises are from being pulled from the tub and thrown on the floor when CPR began," according to Slagle.

The injuries were found during a second autopsy several years after her death. The defense is trying to discredit the doctor who found the injuries because she once testified for the defense in a civil case.

"She was the expert for Dale Larkin, now she is the state's witness here, same person...the money changes hands again so she can come here and testify in a high profile case," said Slagle.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree on one thing, this trial will not be short. They expect it will last the rest of this week and possibly into the first of next week.

Prosecutors say Dale Larkin collected more than $600,000 in life insurance after his wife's death. The settlement of a civil case, lodged by Terri Larkin's ex-husband, placed a portion of that money in a trust for Terri Larkin's daughter.

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