HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A man and woman have been sentenced to decades in prison in the starvation death of their disabled 9-year-old son last year in Pennsylvania.
Jarrod Tutko Sr., 39, was sentenced Wednesday to 21 to 42 years in prison. Kimberly Tutko, 40, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in a separate hearing.
Both pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of Jarrod Tutko Jr., whose decomposing body was found in August 2014 in the family’s Harrisburg home. Authorities said the boy, who had a genetic disorder with autism-like symptoms, weighed less than 17 pounds at the time of his death.
The father, who also pleaded guilty to concealing the death, spoke in his own defense moments before he was sentenced.
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“I am not a monster,” he nearly shouted. “I am not a dangerous individual. I love my children. I tried my hardest…I lost control and couldn’t handle it.”
Kimberly Tutko told Judge John Cherry that her husband forced her to be a “coward,” and “I will carry that guilt for all of my life, till the end of time.”
“I have already been punished,” she said. “I lost my child forever … He should be alive to today and me in his place.”
The judge said during her sentencing hearing that the child “was caged in a feces-covered room” with only “a feces-covered rabbit” for comfort.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack called the room a “dungeon” and said the parents “pushed away the help that was offered to them” by agencies in the years before their son’s death.
“Jarrod and Kimberly Tutko are people who live in their own self-absorbed world,” he said, adding that they “spend more time complaining about each other than mourning their son.”
The parents also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and child endangerment related to their 10-year-old disabled daughter, who was found in dire condition as authorities investigated her brother’s death. The judge noted that he had terminated their parental rights to their surviving five children, and all were thriving in foster care.