An Oregon woman has been convicted of murder and six other charges in the tragic beating death of her four-year-old son.
Emergency responders brought the boy to a Portland hospital after a beating so severe that he his bowels were torn, and he was taken off life support two days later.
Jessica Dutro, 25, allegedly thought the boy, Zachary, was going to be gay according to a Facebook message to her boyfriend, who was previously convicted in the crime. The boyfriend, Brian Canady, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and second degree assault as part of a plea deal. In the Facebook message in question, which was admitted into evidence at trial, Dutro wrote that “he walks and talks like it. Ugh.” She added that the boyfriend would have to “work on” her son “big time.”
According to the prosecution, “this was the motive behind Zachary’s unfair treatment.” Defense lawyers denied that the posting, meant as a joke, was the motive for the beating, however, and suggested that the boyfriend may have been solely responsible.
The vicious assault took place at a Portland-area homeless shelter last August, one day before the boy’s birthday, and was witnessed by Zachary’s sister, then age 7, who provided key evidence to the police. “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’s daughter told detectives.
According to a doctor involved in the case, two of Zachary’s siblings were also abused.
After deliberating for about an hour, a Washington County, Oregon, jury convicted Dutro of murder as well five counts of murder by abuse, and one count of second-degree assault. She will be sentenced on April 18.