“They beat my brother up, then he died,” the 7-year-old daughter of Jessica Dutro told a counselor. “I seen them.”
That was all the evidence prosecutors needed to charge 25-year-old Dutro with murder. Now, the abusive mother of four has been found guilty by a Washington County jury of kicking her 4-year-old son, Zachary, to death.
Zachary died on August 16, 2012 — one day after his fourth birthday — after having spent two days on life support from intestinal tears caused by abdominal trauma. The injuries were inflicted by his mother who repeatedly beat the child after she became suspicious he might be gay.
The case drew widespread attention in the media after the judge ruled that Facebook messages would be admissible in court. Dutro wrote to her boyfriend Brian Canady that she thought her son Zachary was gay, because “he walks and talks like it. Ugh.”
It took the jury a little over an hour to deliberate. Dutro was charged with seven counts: one count of murder, five counts of murder by abuse, and one count of second-degree assault. The unanimous verdict found her guilty on all seven counts.
Dutro, dressed in a zebra print blouse and black pants, reportedly showed no visible reaction when the verdict was read. Her family declined to comment after the court was adjourned. She will be sentenced on April 18.