LINCOLN — A Lincoln man offered a brief apology to his boyfriend’s family at his sentencing Friday for unintentionally killing him during a fight last September and leaving him in the bathtub at his house for three days.
“I’m really sorry this happened,” Joshua A. Larsen, 35, said. “I never meant for it to happen.”
In a letter to the judge, Larsen had asked for five to 10 years for the manslaughter of Robert Aguirre, a request that Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Julie Mruz said Friday depreciated the seriousness of what he’d done.
On Sept. 29, Lincoln police went to check on Aguirre at his home near North 65th and Adams Streets after Larsen told his mother and another witness that he “had a dead body in the bathtub down the street and he was threatening to kill both of (them),” according to police.
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They arrested Larsen on an unrelated warrant, then went to Aguirre’s home and found him dead in the bathtub with wet blankets and a carpet covering his body and blood smeared on the living room floor.
Larsen told investigators that he’d gone to Aguirre’s to buy drugs early Sept. 26 but that Aguirre refused to sell him any. He left, but came back and an argument turned into a fight.
He told police Aguirre started hitting him, so he put Aguirre in a headlock, then a leg choke around his neck. After Aguirre was unconscious for about a minute, he tried CPR but couldn’t revive him.
Defense attorney DeAnn Stover said they discussed arguing at trial that it was a mutual fight but ultimately agreed to the plea offer.
Larsen pleaded no contest to manslaughter (the unintentional killing without malice upon a sudden quarrel), first-degree domestic assault and terroristic threats, and for assaulting an officer in a separate incident earlier the same month.
Mruz said: “What happened to Mr. Aguirre is something feared by every prosecutor, law enforcement officer and family member when an abuser continues to escalate the violence in an already abusive relationship.”
Aguirre may not have been perfect, she said. But he deserved to be treated better by his partner.
“He deserved to be respected, and he deserved to live,” Mruz said, going through Larsen’s history of assaultive behavior, which included assaulting a man with a hammer for trying to stop him from assaulting a previous significant other.
She said Larsen was out on bond with an open domestic assault case when he killed Aguirre. He had two prior convictions for domestic assaults where Aguirre was the victim.
Despite all of this history, the abuse didn’t stop, Mruz said.
“He knew what he did was awful. And then he failed to call 911 for any chance at medical intervention. Instead, he tried to cover up his heinous crime,” she said.
In the end, retired Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn sentenced Larsen to 23 to 26 years in prison, saying that he couldn’t ignore the serious nature of his crimes and that imprisonment was necessary for the protection of the public.