'Attention-seeking' mother lies about son's medical condition and almost starves him to death to raise donations
Danita Tutt of Cleburne, Texas has been found guilty of attempted murder after she lied about her 13-year-old son's medical condition for 'attention'
42-year-old Danita Tutt of Cleburne, Texas was found guilty by a jury on Friday 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's family expressed their dismay, calling it "the saddest thing in the world", as the verdict was read on Friday. 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. While the bodily injury charge is a first-degree felony carrying a sentence of five years to life in prison, the attempted murder charge carries a two to 20-year sentence. That said, Tutt will be eligible for probation.
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.
Last year, 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.