Jessica Dutro regularly beat all three of her kids – but the Portland mom was especially hard on her son Zachary, eventually beating him to death the day before his fourth birthday because he seemed gay, prosecutors say.
Before they were released for the weekend, the jury read Facebook messages between Dutro, 25, and her live-in boyfriend, Brian Canady, who has already pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault for his role in Zachary’s death.
As part of a plea deal, Canady admitted that he kicked Zachary in the stomach on Aug. 12, 2012. The coroner later found that the child had two holes in his intestines, and died as a result of “blunt force abdominal trauma” and delayed medical treatment.
In one message, Dutro wrote that Zachary, was “facing the wall,” and that she knew he was going to be gay. “He walks like it and talks like it, ugh, she wrote, adding that Canady needed to “work on” the boy “big time.”
Prosecutor Megan Johnson argued to the judge that the message established Dutro’s motive for hurting the boy. The judge ruled the message was admissible.
Defense attorneys for Dutro say she should be acquitted because the evidence points to Canady being the only person who inflicted the boy’s deadly injuries. They told the jury that there is no evidence to substantiate testimony by the boy’s 7-year-old sister, whose police interview was played for the jury.
“They kept hitting and hitting him because he wasn’t listening,” the child told police, according to the Oregonian. She said the boy got sick, made soft groaning sounds and eventually stopped breathing.
The day after the beating was also Zachary’s fourth birthday.
The day after that, on Aug. 14, the couple finally called authorities. But by that time, “he was essentially dead,” Dr. Danny Leonhardt testified, the Oregonian reported. “We didn’t get a chance to fix him.”
Dutro is charged with murder, murder by abuse and second-degree assault. The jury is expected to begin deliberations April 2 or 3.