FRIENDSHIP, Wis. (AP) — A Big Flats man was convicted Friday of killing his mother in 2010, hiding her body and using her checks and credit cards.
Larry W. Clark testified Thursday in his own defense that he accidentally shot his mother, 79-year-old Marcella Clark, in the house they shared while stretching his arms to help himself breathe better. He said he didn’t report the death because he was more worried about training her puppy to survive if he went to jail, the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune reported.
An Adams County jury still convicted him of first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse, two counts of uttering a forgery, identity theft and two counts of providing false information about a missing person, according to a state Department of Justice news release.
Clark, 61, faces life in prison. No sentencing date has been set.
His attorney, listed in online court records as James Connell, didn’t immediately return a message left at his office Friday afternoon.
According to a criminal complaint, one of Marcella Clark’s friends told sheriff’s deputies in November 2010 that he hadn’t seen her since the end of June. Prosecutors said Larry Clark gave different explanations for her absence — that she was visiting a sister in Arkansas, had left by taxi for some unknown location or was critically ill in the hospital.
Investigators found video from an Adams County store that showed Larry Clark using his mother’s checks and credit card to buy food and other items in September, October and November 2010, according to a criminal complaint and the DOJ release.
Authorities executed a search warrant at the Clarks’ home in November 2010. They found Marcella Clark’s remains on a tarp in a group of trees on the property. An autopsy revealed she had been shot in the back and died in July 2010.
The Daily Tribune reported Clark testified Thursday he was in his bedroom on the evening before the shooting, when he started having trouble breathing. He grabbed a revolver he’d taken away from his mother the previous day and walked into the hallway, he said.
When he got near the kitchen he raised his arms in an attempt to get more air into his lungs, he testified. When he did, he tensed up and the gun fired.
Clark said his mother started to kneel but didn’t drop to the floor. He said he thought she was reacting to the gun going off, and he didn’t realize she’d been shot in the back.
When he woke up the next day she was dead on the kitchen floor, he said. He eventually moved the body into the woods, he said.
He said he worried that if he reported the shooting he’d end up in jail. First he wanted to train his mother’s cocker spaniel to interact with people so it could find a home.
Information from: Daily Tribune, http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com