The trial of a Pennsylvania couple accused of letting their 9-year-old disabled son starve to death and of nearly doing the same to a disabled daughter is due to start on Oct. 26, but a prosecutor said jury selection had been canceled.
The cancelation could mean that Jarrod Tutko, Sr., 39, and Kimberly Tutko, 40, had agreed to a plea deal, though prosecutor Sean McCormack would not comment on that possibility. He said the Tutkos would still appear before a judge on Oct. 26, and that the hearing would be newsworthy.
The Tutkos, whose trial is scheduled to begin in Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, face criminal homicide and other charges over the death of their son, Jarrod, Jr., 9, last year and the abusive treatment of his sister, Arianna, 10.
The parents could face up to life imprisonment on the murder charge. The prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.
The Tutkos, lived with their six children, all but one of whom had some sort of medical or developmental problem, in a rented house in Harrisburg, the state capital.
Courts had previously taken away four other children from Kimberly Tutko, police said. Those children were fathered by another man.
On Aug. 1, 2014, Harrisburg police went to the house and found the decomposing body of Jarrod Tutko, Jr., who had died about four days earlier. The 9-year-old suffered from Fragile-X Syndrome, a genetic disorder. He was three-and-a-half feet tall and weighed less than 17 pounds because of starvation, an autopsy found.
His parents kept him locked in a third-floor room with no bed or lights, where he was prone to smearing himself and the walls with feces, authorities said.
The daughter, Arianna Tutko, was found in a second-floor bedroom in a coma and just hours from death, police said. She recovered, and with the other four children, was taken away from her parents by the state.
(By David DeKok; Editing By Frank McGurty and Richard Balmforth)