John M. Becker

Jury Convicts Mom Who Killed Toddler Because She Thought He Was Gay

Filed By John M. Becker | April 03, 2014 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: barbarity, beating, Brian Canady, child abuse, evil, filicide, gay-bashing, graphic violence, hate crime, Jessica Dutro, murder, Oregon, trigger warning, Zachary Dutro-Boggess

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains graphic details about the vicious beating and hate-motivated murder of a small child.

zachary-dutro-boggess.jpgJessica Dutro, a 25-year-old Oregon woman who savagely beat her toddler to death because she thought he was gay, was found guilty last evening on seven charges related to the 2012 death of four-year-old Zachary Dutro-Boggess: one count of murder, five counts of murder by abuse, and one count of second-degree assault.

Little Zachary (right) was murdered by his mother Jessica and her boyfriend Brian Canady, who pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault for his role in the killing. The attack took place at a homeless shelter in the Portland suburb of Tigard, Oregon, in full view of his now eight-year-old sister.

Prosecutors say Dutro subjected her children to "systematic dehumanization" in the form of brutal beatings -- her way of disciplining them. But the evidence showed that it was young Zachary who bore the brunt of the abuse, because his mom suspected him of being gay. Jurors were read a Facebook message that Dutro wrote to Canady:

Her son was going to be gay, she wrote, using a slur. "He walks and talks like it. Ugh."

Canady would have to "work on" Zachary, she wrote.

Oregon Live reports on Canady's role in Zachary's death, and how he "worked on" the child:

In an interview with detectives, Canady admitted he had assaulted the boy two days earlier. Canady told detectives he kicked Zachary in the stomach because the boy had disobeyed. He'd told Zachary to sit and watch TV, but Zachary didn't listen and said he wanted to take his shoes off first, Canady said.

Prosecutors say Zachary died Aug. 16, 2012, of blunt-force trauma to his abdomen and a delay in medical treatment... In his plea petition, Canady wrote that he recklessly caused the child serious physical injury and death. In the manslaughter charge, Canady admitted to engaging in a pattern of abuse against Zachary.

If you can believe it, Jessica Dutro's treatment of her children was even more barbaric.

Before the jurors left the courtroom to decide Dutro's fate, prosecutors told them that if they believed nothing else, they should believe her daughter, who witnessed Zachary's murder and whose recounting of the beating that killed her brother was played at trial.

"They beat up my brother, then he died," the girl told her counselor. "I seen them."

To a Tigard detective, she said, "Jessica and Brian, they kept hitting him and punching him. He didn't listen to them so they kicked him and punched him and stuff and they kept doing it and doing it. ... They knew he were sick and stuff. And they didn't tell anybody."

jessica-dutro.jpgThat fatal beating happened on August 12, 2012, the day before Zachary turned four. But Zachary didn't die right away. In fact, he likely wouldn't have died at all had he received appropriate medical attention.

But Jessica Dutro (left) was in no hurry to seek medical care for her child. Instead, she let him die slowly from his internal and external injuries. Oregon Live reports that she and Canady didn't seek professional medical help until two days later:

"On the morning of Aug. 14, 2012, the couple did call for help. Zachary was unresponsive. Dutro told police that he didn't wake up when she roused him and his three siblings.

"She put him in the shower because he had wet the bed, Dutro said. His body was limp, his head and eyes rolled."

But by the time Zachary got to the emergency room, Dr. Danny Leonhardt testified, it was too late. "We didn't see him until he essentially was dead," he said. "We didn't get a chance to fix him." Two days later, on August 16, Zachary was removed from life support.

Dr. Leonhardt's report of the injuries suffered by little Zachary is almost too much to bear:

Zachary's bowel was torn in two places. The contents of his intestines had leaked out into his body for at least two days, Leonhardt said. The resulting shock and infection killed Zachary.

Doctors concluded that abdominal trauma had caused the tears in Zachary's gut. High-velocity car crashes or bike accidents could cause similar injuries, Leonhardt said. Otherwise, it takes forceful, violent kicking or stomping to cause such injuries, he testified.

Bruises were all over Zachary's body. They suggested that the child had pulled himself into a fetal position to protect himself from a beating, the doctor said. The various injuries indicated he had been abused multiple times, Leonhardt said.

Old, dead tissue from a deep cut hung off of Zachary's lip. Leonardt, a child abuse specialist at Randall Children's Hospital and CARES Northwest, could not recall another case where a child had that injury.

"That thing would have bled a lot," he said. "You just let this flap of lip hang there?"

After he saw Zachary's injuries, Dr. Leonhardt examined the rest of Dutro's children. Each of them, except for Dutro and Canady's infant son, showed clear signs of abuse.

It took the jury in Washington County, Oregon a little over an hour yesterday to convict Jessica Dutro of all the charges against her -- of beating her little child to death because she thought he was gay. The verdict was unanimous. Dutro showed no emotion as it was read.

She will be sentenced on April 18.

h/t: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement.

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