Legal analyst: Larson’s defense team likely to challenge state police interview

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BELMONT, N.Y. (WIVB) – A legal analyst suggests it will be “one of the primary goals” for William Larson Jr.’s defense team to get his three hour interview with New York State Police thrown out of the criminal case.

Larson, 17, is accused of killing his father, William Larson Sr., and his mother, Lisa, at their home in the Allegany County Town of Clarksville on November 5th. The bodies weren’t discovered until November 21st.

Later that day, troopers took Larson Jr. into custody not far from his home. New York State Police Senior Investigator Christopher Weber revealed Tuesday during a felony hearing that he was taken to the state police barracks in the Town of Amity, and interviewed for about three hours.

There were no guardians or family members present when that happened.

“(Larson) is 17-years-old, but he is treated by-and-large in many ways as an adult in the criminal justice system,” said criminal defense attorney and News 4 legal analyst Barry Covert, who is not affiliated with the case.

Covert says the law backs up state police in their move to interview Larson that night without an adult present.

“New York State, like the majority of states, does not require that prior to interviewing a 17-year-old, you obtain parental or guardianship consent, nor does New York State require that the parent or guardian be present during the interview,” Covert said.

Still, Covert said, other questions can be raised.

“Did he fully understand his Miranda warnings? Were the circumstances overbearing? What was his education level and his maturity level?” Covert rhetorically asked.

Of course, at the time of the interrogation, Larson’s parents were dead. Autopsy reports show both were shot and stabbed. Weber testified that troopers tried to get in touch with other relatives of Larson, but a step-brother living locally said he didn’t want to be involved.

In the first 20 minutes of the interview with troopers, which was played during the hearing Tuesday, Larson Jr. said his father killed his mom. He added he only shot his father after Larson Sr. threw a knife at him.

“He denied that he killed his mother,” prosecutor Thomas Fuoco said.

Larson Jr. has been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of manslaughter.

While he was in the state police barracks, he was offered a sandwich and Mountain Dew, Weber testified. The investigator also said another trooper went out to buy cigarettes for the 17-year-old Larson, something Covert finds “interesting”.

“My understanding is that a minor is not allowed to purchase cigarettes on his own,” Covert said. “Yet the police officer is giving him cigarettes that he would not otherwise have access to. That is certainly a factor that will come into play.

“It’s certainly a factor that the defense lawyer will use to show in the overall mosaic that (troopers) did everything they could to try to overcome his will to try to get him to give a statement and cooperate.”

An Allegany County grand jury is scheduled to hear the case on December 11th. Larson is expected to be back in court six days later, on the 17th.

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