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Karlsen Case: 9-Hour Interrogation Yields New Information
Waterloo / Varick, Seneca County --- Karl Karlsen was back in Seneca County Court on Monday to watch more of his more than nine-hour interview with police investigators.
The hearing is part of a pre-trial proceeding to determine what statements Karlsen made can be used against him at trial in October. Karlsen faces a Murder 2nd Degree charge for the death of his son Levi, 23, in November 2008. Authorities have also charged Karlsen for collecting insurance money from his son’s death and for allegedly lying about and hiding a will that his son supposedly left behind.
During the roughly three-hour portion of videotaped interview played on Monday you see two investigators take turns questioning Karlsen. One investigator works for the New York State Police and the other for the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.
Throughout the interview Karlsen displayed a wide range of emotions. At one point he is slumped over in his chair with his face in his hands crying while an investigators half-embraces him and encourages him to “tell the truth.” At another point Karlsen stands up because he complains of back and shoulder pain and worries about how he will get more medication.
The investigators at each point cease on changes to his story that continue to arise. The focus is what happened inside a garage on Karlsen’s property the day his son died. In the interview Karlsen admits that a pickup truck his son was working on slipped off of the jack and fell on top of him. But he said that happened hours before he reported it and even before he left the residence to attend a funeral with his wife.
"...I opened the door and the truck was jacked up so it was high, so I jumped up on the running board...and when I leaned over it just tipped....I just knew that in my head all I could do was run," Karlsen could be seen telling investigators. "I don't know why...it didn't register, I just blanked."
Karlsen said he went inside after that happened and cleaned up for the family funeral that he then attended with his wife. He then said he returned home, went back to the garage and reported that his son was dead.
Investigators accused him of “putting on a show” with tears and everything that would convince others of his story.
"What you also heard is a man who according to the tape that we've heard so far is incredibly guilt-ridden about a circumstance that he was intimately involved with,” said Karlsen’s Lawyer Larry Kasperek. “For nine hours you hear my client say he didn't do it, I didn't do it, I never did anything. You did it intentionally? No I didn't. You don't love your son? Yes I do love my son. The most de-humanizing comments you can think of to break somebody down and leave him in ruin until they get what they want.”
Karlsen could also be heard explaining how his son went to enroll in a life insurance policy weeks before his death. He said Levi’s employer always encouraged workers to invest wisely and Karlsen explained that he even paid the initial premium because his son did not have money on him at the time the application was filled out.
Investigators said that Levi died days before he was scheduled to submit to a physical that was required as part of that life insurance policy.
"My client paid the first premium but he never completed the physical and the company went out of its way to get good publicity for itself by saying that we're going to be a standup company and pay the insurance policy,” said Kasperek.
Another topic of conversation during this interview with investigators was the death of Levi’s mother, Karlsen’s first wife. She died in a 1991 house fire in California and Karlsen collected more than $200,000 from a life insurance policy after her death.
California authorities re-opened their investigation into that fire following Karlsen’s arrest in New York State last year.
"If you went out and bought an insurance policy for a flood that you were about to have and then a flood occurs a month later would it be happenstance or something that you planned?” Kasperek asked in defense of his client.
This pre-trial hearing continues on August 2nd when the remainder of that taped interview will be played. Karlsen’s soon-to-be ex-wife is also expected to testify at that hearing.
Karlsen’s trial is scheduled for October.