BELMONT — A teen accused of a double-murder told police that his father was the aggressor who killed his mother and threatened to kill him before the teen acted in self-defense.
During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Allegany County Judge Terrence Parker ruled there is enough evidence to present the two second-degree murder and two first-degree manslaughter charges against William J. Larson Jr., 17, to a grand jury.
The teen is accused of killing his parents, William Larson Sr., 67, and Lisa Larson, 49, despite claims that the younger Larson was asleep during the murder of Lisa Larson, and his father was attempting to kill him with a knife and leave the scene before the teen fired two shots and stabbed his father three times.
Parker reached his decision after watching a portion of a videotaped interview with Larson at the Amity state police barracks, as well as listening to examination of two state police investigators and accepting the preliminary autopsy reports for the victims.
First called to the stand was State Police Senior Investigator Christopher Weber, who supervises staff in the Major Crimes Unit for the eight counties of Troop A. He was one of two investigators who spent just shy of three hours interviewing Larson the evening he was picked up.
“He was very cold and hungry, and he wanted a smoke,” Weber said, adding a trooper went to the store and bought a pack of Camel cigarettes for the Larson. Weber described Larson as “very” cooperative during the investigation.
In the recording, which had distorted audio that was difficult to hear at times, Larson said he was awakened Nov. 5 by his father “ripping the door off” of his bedroom. At that time, Larson said his father was high on methamphetamines and had already killed Lisa Larson.
With the elder Larson attempting to leave in a green Chevrolet Blazer with a box of family valuables, the son claimed he fired a warning shot at the vehicle, striking the dashboard and windshield. He then fired a second shot, killing his father.
“He threw a knife at me,” the accused said in the recording …”and then I shot him.”
Weber said the knife described by Larson was a fixed-blade knife between 6 and 12 inches long and decorated with white skulls. The exact murder weapon has not been identified yet, Weber said, as “there were a few” weapons in the house.
Larson then left the bodies outside for days before bringing them inside.
“I’m f---, you’re going to blame me,” he told investigators. “I kept putting it off, putting it off … I wanted to go to the police and tell them what happened, but I got scared.”
Later, he said, he lit a fire on the pool table in the basement of the home. At the scene, he attempted to keep firefighters from getting inside to fight the blaze and finding the bodies.
A discrepancy, Weber said, is that Larson claimed his father was leaving, but according to investigators, the car was loaded with bags containing clothes believed to belong to Lisa Larson.
He also noted that law enforcement was called to the scene a year prior.
“His father was handling his shotgun, the shotgun went off accidentally and shot (Larson Jr.) in the foot,” Weber said.
Weber also noted there were “knives strewn about the house,” and there were “multiple types of rounds … fired and live all over the floor of the house.”
Noting the interview and physical evidence, which appeared to back up Larson’s statement, including the bedroom door being damaged and number of shots fired, Assistant Public Defender J.R. Carter asked Weber, “Why is he being charged with two murders?”
The question went unanswered, as Assistant District Attorney Thomas Fuoco objected to the question. Parker sustained the objection.
During the hearing, Larson wore the same grey and green flannel hoodie and track pants he was wearing when taken into custody the evening of Nov. 21. According to investigators, those clothes were provided by a neighbor at about 9 a.m. Thursday as the police search intensified. Larson did not speak, but occasionally shifted in his chair during the proceedings. His interest seemed to sharpen when his recorded interview was played.
State Police Investigator Cyle Pomeroy of the Amity barracks reported that he received preliminary autopsy reports from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester Monday afternoon before delivering them to the DA’s office.
The report for the elder William Larson indicates he was shot in the torso, as well as stabbed in the right lower chest, the middle of the left side of the chest and in the left flank. The cause of death was listed as multiple injuries.
The report for Lisa Lawson indicates she died from a single stab wound to the left side of her chest, which severed the pulmonary artery and aorta. She was also shot in the right leg.
The grand jury is scheduled to hear evidence Dec. 11 in a closed-door session, and Parker said the next open hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 17.
Before the hearing Monday, Parker announced that he had issued an order banning audio and visual recording from the courtroom during that performed by the court reporter. However, reporters did not have cellphones or other electronics seized, noting that many use such devices for news gathering purposes unrelated to recording.
But if any one recorded the proceedings, “that would become an issue of contempt,” he added.
Prosecutors declined to go in depth on the case outside of court.
“He’s innocent until proven guilty,” Fuoco said. “I’m going to do that in a court of law — not in the media.
“If he’s not indicted, he’ll be released,” he added.
Carter was not available for comment. The defense offered no witnesses at the hearing.
Firefighters were called to the scene at around 11:40 p.m. Nov. 20 for a structure fire at the address. Upon arrival, firefighters were greeted by someone identified as Larson, who indicated there were two people trapped inside. West Clarksville and Portville firefighters entered the building to rescue the individuals and fight the blaze, which was confined to one room of the residence.
Following the discovery of the bodies and contact with law enforcement by firefighters, Larson fled into the woods on foot.
A manhunt, lasting until nightfall Thursday, involved dozens of state troopers, tactical teams, Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers. Various techniques were used in the search, including K-9 units, a helicopter with infrared imaging equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Larson was picked up just before 5 p.m. by a trooper on patrol, and he was charged at 8:22 p.m. Thursday.