Jarrod and Kimberly Tutko, a Pennsylvania couple accused of starving their 9-year-old disabled son to death last summer, have both entered pleas of not guilty on Thursday.
The couple appeared for their arraignment in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in shackles, facing charges of criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child. Jarrod Tutko, the father of the victim, also faces additional charges of abuse of a corpse and concealing the death of a child. If found guilty, both Jarrod and Kimberly Tutko face life in prison.
The death of their son, Jarrod Tutko Jr., who had been diagnosed with a form of autism called Fragile X Syndrome, occurred last July, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental disabilities. Their son’s body was already decomposing when police found the boy in a bedroom smeared with feces in the couple’s Harrisburg home. Prosecutors charge that the Tutkos kept their son in a room on the third floor that was not just smeared with feces, it also had no working lights and no bed.
The child weighed less than 17 pounds at the time of his death, according to the county coroner.
It was actually Kimberly Tutko who alerted the police. She stated that her husband had admitted to her that their son had been dead for days, and that she herself had been unaware of her own son’s death because she was busy caring for another child on a different floor of their four-bedroom duplex.
Jarrod Tutko Sr. admitted that he found his son dead on July 29, but that he withheld the news from his wife, only telling her the truth when she noticed the smell of her child’s decomposing body two days later. Jarrod Tutko has been in jail since his arrest in August. In a chilling detail, prosecutors pointed out that the Tutkos received a disability check of $710 monthly for their son, and if the death was not reported until August, the two would have received another check.
Kimberly Tutko was not arrested until late September. According to PennLive, the couple made no eye contact with one another as they entered the courtroom, and Kimberly reportedly wept while speaking with her defense attorney.
The Huffington Post reports that, in addition to their autistic son, the couple had five other children together. All five have been placed in protective custody since the arrests. Kimberly Tutko also has four additional children with another man, all of whom were previously taken away by the courts.
With so many cases of horrific abuse, many wonder why the child welfare system seems to be failing so many of the children it’s supposed to protect. For more on that, click here.
[Image via New York Daily News]