August 20, 2013 Updated: August 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm
An El Paso County jury on Tuesday convicted a 78-year-old Colorado Springs man of sexually assaulting a granddaughter in a verdict expected to put him behind bars for life.
In a split decision rendered after roughly eight hours of deliberations, the panel found Emmett Andrew Larsen guilty of repeated abuse of the young girl. Larsen was acquitted on molestation charges related to another granddaughter.
The retired Federal Aviation Administration worker displayed little outward emotion as he was taken into custody after the verdict.
"It was expected," he told a supporter in a weary voice while waiting for the El Paso County sheriff's deputies who eventually handcuffed him and led him away.
Under Colorado's sentencing provisions for sex offenders, Larsen will be incarcerated for life at his Dec. 6 sentencing, with a chance of parole after serving at least 10 years, said his attorney, Phil Cherner of Denver.
"The penalty's draconian, especially at his age," said Cherner, who called the verdict "unfortunate."
Prosecutor Chelsea Schinnour said in a written statement released by the District Attorney's Office that "the verdict was in accordance with the evidence presented."
The verdict came after a five-day trial in which one of the two alleged victims told the jury she had no memory of previous statements that she was fondled by her grandfather, leading to a not-guilty finding.
The other girl retreated from some allegations, but said on the stand that Larsen had fondled her breasts.
During her testimony, the girls' mother disputed her daughters were abused - even as she alleged being raped by Larsen as a child for more than a decade.
In another twist, the Colorado Department of Human Services sought to terminate the woman's parental rights mid-trial after it emerged that Larsen's granddaughters and their mother had been staying at his home.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Barney Iuppa blocked DHS from taking further action, saying prosecutors did not request a no-contact order between Larsen and his granddaughters as a condition of his bond. Iuppa said any future custody actions arising from the trial must be brought before his court.
Cherner said Tuesday that the girls were still living at Larsen's house. He declined to say if DHS had initiated new requests to sever the mother's custody.