Parents Plead Guilty to Murder in Death of Disabled Son

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Harrisburg couple pleads guilty to son’s starvation death.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A couple charged with starving to death their disabled 9-year-old son inside a home of filth pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree murder and other charges. Jarrod Tutko Sr., 39, pleaded guilty in Dauphin County Court to the murder charge as well as to child endangerment and concealing the death of Jarrod Tutko Jr. An autopsy determined that he weighed less than 17 pounds when his body was found in August 2014 in the family’s Harrisburg home and that he died of malnutrition and neglect. Police said the boy lived in a locked, feces-smeared room on the third floor of the home, and detective Rodney Shoeman testified last year that he smelled “a strong odor of decomposition” when he approached the residence. He said Kimberly Tutko told him that she tried unsuccessfully to combat the stench with mothballs and bleach, thinking it came from dead mice, and it wasn’t until she asked her husband about it that he revealed that the child had died.

He suffered from Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. According to charging documents, Jarrod Tutko told police he found his son dead on the night of July 29, 2014 – two days after he last checked on the boy – but kept the death hidden from his wife for three days until she smelled the decomposing body. A Penn State Hershey Medical Center pediatrician told the grand jury that Arianna suffered from a severe brain injury and was completely dependent for all her care.

Due to her neglect, the doctor said Arianna had wax from her ears that was coming out onto her face, her eyes were matted shut from secretions and dirt, she had thick, filthy scales all over her body, and she looked as if she hadn’t been bathed in a very, very long time, the report states. Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack said sentencing guidelines call for a term of up to 20 years in prison for the third-degree murder charge.

According to the report, the staff was overworked and lacked adequate investigative training, and some abuse cases were dismissed as unfounded even when abuse was happening.

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