Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin man found guilty in death of roommate

Neils Larsen III listens Thursday during the sentencing phase of his trial, just moments after being found guilty of manslaughter.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Neils Larsen III listens Thursday during the sentencing phase of his trial, just moments after being found guilty of manslaughter.

LARGO — Though he caused her death, Neils C. Larsen III did not intend to kill his roommate after they argued in September 2008, a jury decided Thursday.

But Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone pointed out that from testimony it was clear Barbara Hebert died "a long, slow death" from an "overwhelming" force.

"This is the most aggravated manslaughter this court has ever encountered," Bulone said.

Those circumstances included the fact that Larsen never called authorities after Hebert died and left her body to decompose on the kitchen floor of the Dunedin home they shared.

And that he duct-taped her mouth, arms and legs.

And that he admitted in court that he lied to investigators.

Larsen had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Hebert, 61, whose body was found by Pinellas deputies under a pile of blankets on Sept. 13, 2008. He faced the possibility of life in prison.

After nearly four hours of deliberations, the jury found Larsen guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter.

Bulone, however, sentenced the 57-year-old to the maximum allowable for his crime — 15 years in state prison.

Deputies had responded to the home on Sept. 12, 2008, to check on Larsen after a friend of his notified the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that he had received a disturbing letter from Larsen.

When Larsen refused to let a deputy come into the house, an eight-hour standoff ensued that ended when a SWAT team deployed gas into the home.

It's unknown exactly how long Hebert had been dead, but she was found under a pile of blankets in a T-shirt and underwear, with her arms, legs and mouth bound. She suffered 13 fractured ribs and a broken sternum.

Larsen testified Wednesday that the bones may have been broken when he fell on top of her during a struggle.

But he also acknowledged in court that he lied to detectives and was previously convicted for battering a different roommate in 2004. In that case, he was accused of beating a man with a frying pan after an argument about a chess game.

He was charged with aggravated battery, but later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received probation.

That roommate was also found bound, said Assistant State Attorney Blair Clarke.

Hebert's friend and former co-worker Tammy Koross attended the full three-day trial. She urged the judge to sentence Larsen to the maximum.

"If this monster is out in public, somebody else is going to get a frying pan to the head," she said.

The lead investigator on the case, Sheriff's Office Detective John Spoor, also asked Judge Bulone to impose the harshest sentence available and said he, too, was concerned Larsen could harm someone else.

"I found this case particularly, extremely violent toward the victim," he said.

Larsen has a criminal record in Florida dating to 1974, including the battery case, drug charges and DUIs.

Larsen's public defender, Greg Williams, said after the verdict it was "a very difficult and a very tragic case" and extended sympathy to Hebert's loved ones.

"I think (the jurors) really took the time to weigh all the evidence put before them, and they came back with a fair verdict," he said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at rfarlow@sptimes.com.

Dunedin man found guilty in death of roommate 04/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, they better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher they can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep paying tech expert suspected of stealing House computers?

    Blogs

    The following is from the Miami Herald:

  3. GOP senators blink on a big chance to repeal 'Obamacare'

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated Wednesday they don't have the stomach to repeal "Obamacare" when it really counts, as the Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama's law without replacing it.

    U.S. Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) talks with reporters as he walks to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, DC. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
  4. Rick Baker's debate answer revives painful St. Pete controversy

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Former Mayor Bill Foster fired one of his top administrators, Goliath Davis III, six years ago for disobeying an order to attend the funeral of a slain police officer.

    St. Petersburg police officers stand by two caskets before the beginning of the 2011 funeral services for Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD   |  Times]
  5. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]