Karl Karlsen sentenced to 15 years to life for killing son

The Seneca County man who admitted to killing his own son will spend the next 15 years to life in prison.

53-year-old Karl Karlsen learned his fate in Seneca County Court Monday afternoon. He previously pleaded guilty to killing his son Levi for insurance money.

Family members say they are relieved by his sentencing, but were disappointed Karlsen didn't apologize in court.

"I think the most frustrating part for me," brother Mike Karlsen told us, "is that he showed no remorse today. That bothers me. The smirks, the grins it's like it was a game. And it wasn't a game, it was peoples' lives."

Two family representative spoke before the actual sentencing in the packed Waterloo courtroom: Colette Bousson, victim Levi Karlsen's aunt, and the sister of Karl's first wife, who also died under suspicious circumstances, and Levi's ex-wife Cassie, who also read part of their two young girls' letters to their grandfather (one wrote 'Karl, you are the worst grandfather.').

Before sentencing, the Judge Dennis Bender said he was basing the prison term on 'what you stand convicted of, not what you are accused of.' He told Karlsen that the murder was the most callous and grotesque behavior he'd seen in 30 years on the bench.

Seneca County Sheriff Jack Stenberg told us his department began working on the cold case after getting a call from a family member, to look into the $700,000 insurance settlement after Levi's death. "The family sat down with us and cried and talked and cried and talked, but gave us enough good information to give us a basis for a lot of what we did."

Prosecutors say Karlsen killed his son in 2008 by shifting a truck off its jacks as the 23 year old worked underneath on the family's Finger lakes property in Romulus. Karlsen was the sole beneficiary of Levi's insurance policy.

"At this point we'll still hold our heads high," Mike Karlsen said after. "We had a problem. We dealt with it, and now we'll try to walk away from it."

Karlsen's attorney Lawrence Kasperek is filing an appeal 'on several legal grounds,' but the family is expecting the attention to turn to California and an even older case, the 1991 death of Karlsen's first wife in a suspicious fire.

"It's not over," says Colette Bousson, her sister and Levi's aunt. "We're fighting the fight in Calaveras County and we're hopin that when Calaveras County indicts and finds him guilty, he'll never be up for parole.