Man sentenced to 18 years in wife’s killing

EVERETT — Cristy Larsen was the type who’d supply an early morning cup of coffee and her undivided attention to a co-worker.

She reserved each Thursday evening to have dinner with her grown son.

In many ways, she was her mom’s best friend, remaining by her side for days after the woman suffered a heart attack.

“She was a rock in our family,” her sister, Jannine Setter, told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas Tuesday.

Her family lost that rock in the early morning of April 15, 2011.

That’s when her husband, Bart Larsen, returned from a night of drinking beer with friends and shot her eight times. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The judge sentenced Larsen to 18 years in prison, the middle of the range set by state law.

Lucas described the killing as a crime of passion fueled by anger.

Cristy Larsen was seeking an end to their marriage.

She talked to her mother the day before she was killed, saying that Bart Larsen was upset and told her that he would sooner burn the house down than let his wife have it in a divorce.

Prosecutors alleged that Bart Larsen shot his wife eight times April 15 in their Lynnwood-area home. Evidence at the crime scene indicated that Cristy Larsen, 48, tried to escape after being shot once. She was shot several more times just inside the front door, court papers said. Her body was moved to the bedroom and covered with a sleeping bag.

Edmonds police found Bart Larsen slumped over the wheel of his pickup on Highway 99 several hours after neighbors reported hearing gunshots coming from the couple’s home. He was comatose for a couple of days. He’d ingested a large amount of over-the-counter medication.

Detectives found what appeared to be an apology note written by the defendant in the couple’s house.

Bart Larsen, 50, said Tuesday he grew depressed as he tried to salvage their marriage.

In court papers, the defense argued that he attempted suicide by a drug overdose the night he killed his wife.

“He recalls taking the pills and recalls nothing else about that evening,” defense attorney Natalie Tarantino wrote. “He recognizes from the facts that he did in fact kill his wife, but believes that the combination of drugs and alcohol must have caused a blackout state and perhaps psychosis.”

Deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock wasn’t buying the defense theory.

Evidence from blood-stained rags showed that the defendant attempted to clean the crime scene and he then drove himself more than seven miles away, he said.

“It appears that the only reason he stopped shooting is he ran out of bullets,” Baldock said.

Members of Bart Larsen’s family said they found it hard to believe he could commit a violent act. The defendant had no criminal record.

“This is so out of character,” his sister, Brenda O’Brien, told the judge. “It is not him at all. It is such a shock to our family.”

Bart Larsen said he took the pills because he wanted to die.

“I loved her. I loved her more than anything in the whole entire world,” he told the judge. “She was everything and still is.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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