Man pleads in drug, child endangerment case

Kevin Wayne Larkin

WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County man pleaded guilty Thursday to child endangerment after he and and a young relative tested positive for several illegal drugs in February.

Kevin Wayne Larkin pleaded guilty in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to one count of possession of fentanyl. Larkin, 45, of Edinburg, also entered an Alford plea of guilty to one count of child endangerment by which he maintained his innocence but believed the guilty plea was his best course of action.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp accepted an agreement between Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski and Larkin’s lawyer Peter McDermott that called for the defendant to enter the pleas. Possession of fentanyl carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison while child endangerment calls for up to five years in prison.

Hupp sentenced Larkin under terms of the agreement to two years in prison with all time suspended on the drug charge. Hupp sentenced Larkin to three years with two years and eight months suspended on the child endangerment charge. The judge found that Larkin violated the conditions of his probation for an earlier conviction and ordered that the defendant serve three months of the previously suspended sentence. Larkin received a total active sentence of seven months. Larkin told the judge he’s been in jail for five months already.

Hupp ordered Larkin to have no contact with the child unless permitted by the Department of Social Services or a court order.

Zalenski explained in her summary of the evidence that Larkin appeared in Shenandoah County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Feb. 1 for a Child in Need of Services petition filed on the defendant’s young relative. A judge ordered Larkin to take a drug screen, which tested positive for cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, MDMA and opiates, Zalenski said. Larkin tested positive for fentanyl, she noted.

The court also ordered the child to take a drug screen. The child tested positive for the same substances as Larkin plus alcohol, amphetamine and benzodiazepines but did not test positive for opiates. The child was served a Child in Need of Services petition for failing to attend school and running away. Larkin said he was unable to control the child, who was staying with him,  a criminal complaint states. The judge found the child in need of services and was ordered into immediate foster care.

A grand jury indicted Larkin on June 13, charging him with possessing fentanyl and child endangerment between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1.

In response to a question from Hupp, Zalenski said there was no direct evidence that Larkin provided drugs to the child. The case was based solely on the circumstantial evidence that both Larkin and the child tested positive for at least four of the same substances, Zalenski said. The defendant entered the Alford plea because of the direct evidence.

Hupp asked Larkin where the child lives now. Larkin said with the mother.  Larkin said the incident happened because the child could not be controlled and had started hanging around a bad crowd.

The Department of Social Services remains involved with the child, the prosecutor said. Larkin said he recently completed a  rehabilitation program. The child also has participated in a rehabilitation program, Larkin told the judge.