'Attention-seeking' mother lies about son's medical condition and almost starves him to death to raise donations
42-year-old Danita Tutt of Cleburne, Texas who seriously injured and tried to kill her 13-year-old son in 2016 by withholding food and nutrients from him has been sentenced to five years in prison and a recommended 10 years of probation.
Tutt was found guilty by a jury for allegedly lying about her son's "terminal illness", leading medical authorities to perform unnecessary surgeries and prescribe unneeded pain medications to her son Colby, 13. While she was charged with three counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and one count of attempted murder, she was found not guilty on the first two counts, Daily Mail reports. Tutt was sentenced in October 2018.
Tutt's family expressed their dismay, calling it "the saddest thing in the world", as the verdict was read. Tutt allegedly lied about her son's symptoms for a charity fundraiser after deliberately starving him and not allowing him to drink water.
According to law enforcement, Colby suffered a life-threatening blood infection after undergoing ileostomy and gastronomy surgeries stemming from his mother's false claims. Speaking to the Star Telegram, Serena Bair, who has known Tutt for eight years, said: "Now you have two little boys getting separated from their mother. It's so sad. She is as innocent as the day is long."
As the verdict was read in court, Tutt's husband Clint buried his head in his hands while their family cried. Bair has expressed concerns as to how Clint will care for the two children on his own.
The mother had questioned medical advice regarding Colby in 2016, which lead Child Protective Services to remove him from her custody. She was arrested soon after.
Tutt was accused of being an "attention-seeking type person" who enjoyed "the attention she gets for having a medically fragile child", resulting in both Colby and his nine-year-old brother Colton being removed by the CPS. Colby was receiving palliative care at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth from where he was removed by Tutt.
"There are concerns that she may end Colby's life," the report stated. "There are concerns for the safety of his sibling." Tutt had already made funeral arrangements for her son and even went so far as to buy him a casket after allegedly denying him food and water, the report further stated.
CPS contacted Fort Worth police after taking emergency custody of Colby the day after Tutt had him removed from their care without permission, prompting authorities to launch an investigation into the case. CPS subsequently admitted Colby to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Colby's "final wish" to attend Wrestlemania at AT&T stadium had made headlines across the nation. Wrestler Erick Rowan paid a surprise visit to Colby at his residence in March, with the WWE arranging a special limo for the Tutts to take them to the event.
A hospice administrator was shocked to see that despite his mother's claims that Colby could not tolerate solid foods, he was consuming regular food during a 30-hour observation period when his parents weren't present, an affidavit revealed. "My evening with Colby was surprising in that Colby ate a bean and cheese burrito, a piece of cake and approximately 20 ounces of sweet tea and tolerated it all," Connie Koehler wrote.
When doctors examined Colby once again, they found he was not dying. In the meanwhile, Tutt had already bought a casket for her son and picked out a gravestone for his burial. According to Dr. Bankol Osuntokun, the marked improvement in his condition after being removed from his mother's care is indicative of starvation.
In 2017, the CPS and Tutt reached a settlement wherein the former agreed to drop the lawsuit which sought to revoke the latter's parental rights. While the two boys remained in the custody of their maternal grandparents, Tutt was allowed unlimited supervised visits with her children.